“Come on, get up, it was nothing!”, “Get up! Don’t be a theater man”, “Nothing has happened, stand up!” … These are just some of the phrases that parents often use when their little ones fall to the ground, in order to downplay what happened.
And it is that in general, when the fall of the child has not been serious and has not caused him any physical damage, it is difficult for adults to understand the reason for his crying, and that is why we tend to downplay what he feels.
But does the fact that a fall does not cause physical damage to the child, justify downplaying his feelings? What does the child who claims our attention after falling to the ground really think and feel?
The cry after the fall, beyond the pain
Falls and bumps in children are very frequent; especially in the case of the little ones, because their walk is still unstable and they tend to stumble or lose their balance more often.
Fortunately, in most cases these falls are not serious, and in general, parents quickly identify when our child has been hurt and when not.
However, when faced with a trip, a slip or a minor fall, some children begin to cry disconsolately, they do not want to get up from the ground and claim us: why do they do it, if they have not been hurt?
In general, we could say that the child’s crying would be caused by the frustration of having failed or not having achieved the objective he was pursuing at that moment . For example, the fall frustrates the child’s desire to run after a ball, ride a bike around the park, win a race against other children…
And it is that beyond the physical pain that it may cause, falling can also cause rage, anger and indignation, and the way that the child has to express that discomfort is by crying or emotionally exploding.
On other occasions, the fall can cause an emotional and physical impact that the child has a hard time assimilating immediately. In other words, suddenly seeing himself on the ground startles and scares him, and so he cries.
And finally, there is another potent reason why the young child cries when he falls to the ground despite no harm being done: he simply seeks comfort from his parents or attachment figures; he wants them to hug him, take an interest in him, help him get up… In short, be by his side at that moment that is important to him.
Why we should not play down the child’s feelings
Telling the child that “nothing has happened”, simply because we know that the fall has not caused him physical damage, is to downplay what he is feeling at that moment; that is, invalidate their emotions.
And it is that, as we have commented on many other occasions, it is necessary that parents or adults of reference know how to see that beyond simple crying, there is a need that our child is wanting to transmit.
Obviously, it is not about making a drama out of the situation , because if parents get nervous, sad, run desperately to their aid or emphasize what happened, we will not be giving our child the serenity and support that he or she needs at that moment to overcome that obstacle.
Let’s change the “it was nothing, stand up!” “I see you fell, did you hurt yourself? “, “How do you feel?”, “What do you need?”, “How can I help you?”, “You’re crying because you’re angry that you slipped ? If so, how about we try it again?” …
If we detect that the child’s crying is due to a matter of frustration or shame, it will help him to empathize with his feelings by sharing a similar experience we have had. For example: “I also tripped one day at the wrong time and I felt horrible. I understand what you’re going through. It helped me at that time…” .
In short, our words and our attitude in these situations can help our children feel loved, valued in their feelings and taken into account.
Likewise, you will understand that what happens to us on a physical level is not only important, but also emotionally. In this way, we will be transmitting the idea that feelings such as rage, anger or frustration are not “bad” nor do we have to hide or silence them, quite the opposite; They are emotions like any other and it is necessary to recognize them, talk about them naturally and learn to manage them.
It is normal that at some point we say these types of phrases before a “silly” or unimportant fall. But although we surely do it with the best of our intentions, it is worth thinking about it and turning our message around so that in addition to comforting our son, we are helping him work on empathy and emotional management.