A father accompanied his 8-year-old son into my therapy office and said, “I’m so proud of him for being so strong. He hasn’t cried once since his grandmother died.”
It was a shining example of how mental strength gets misconstrued and turned into a toxic message for kids. Despite this dad’s good intentions, his words had the potential to be quite harmful.
“Not crying” isn’t a hallmark of strength. In fact, it can often take more courage to shed tears than it does to hold them back. Mental strength involves being acutely aware of your emotions and knowing how to express them in healthy ways — such as crying when you’re sad.
The words you use make a big difference. If you’re not careful, you might send a message that instills unhealthy habits that could drain kids of the mental strength they need to reach their greatest potential.