Q&A: Soothing boys
My husband won’t allow our 2-year-old son to play with teddies because dolls are for girls. He also won’t let me comfort our boy when he’s hurt. How does it affect my child when I ignore him every time he cries, because it breaks my heart to leave him alone?

Marie-Jeanne Kruger answers: Babies and young children communicate by crying. They don’t have the capacity to express themselves sufficiently when they’re hungry, thirsty, too hot or too cold, tired or uncomfortable.

They also can’t differentiate between emotions and will cry when they’re scared, hungry or angry. When you don’t comfort a child, or when he is not allowed to find comfort in a teddy or a blankie or other comfort objects, he often remains anxious.

Soothing, rocking and stroking your child helps him get a handle on his emotions, and teaches him that his needs are important. It improves his self-image and gives him a safe haven from where to explore the world around him.

If he’s not guided in recognising different emotions, it could lead to stunted emotions and even depression. The “Big boys don’t cry” attitude also makes it more difficult for others to get close to your son.

Your maternal instincts are correct – by all means soothe and comfort him, and give him a teddy if it makes him feel better. A calm child makes for a calm household!

An interesting snippet – did you know that emergency personnel in the US take teddies with them to crisis situations? It has also been found that a child who gets a teddy during a crisis is calmer and deals better with the situation.

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