As C cried hard, desperately sobbing and yelling for me, his dad drew strength and direction from what we'd read about the importance of being authentic and acknowedging feelings. He told C that doctors were making mummy better, that I was safe and that I missed and loved him so much - that I'd be home as soon as I could. He acknowledged and verbalised that C felt upset, that he missed mummy. He opened up to C by resonating with his feelings about missing me too. All the while his manner was calm, his words were quiet and sure, and his soft, kind eyes were locked with C's, at his level. He told him he was safe - that Daddy was going to keep him safe. After patiently working through C's tears together in this way, at C's pace, the situation ended in a connected cuddle, and a massively deepened bond.
It was about just stopping to be there in that moment with C, to understand his feelings - to validate them - and allow him to express them. To not be caught up in rushing, to not underestimate the depth of C's emotions or his intelligence, and to not try to stop his expression by trivialising the situation or by trying to distract him. It was about respecting C and allowing him the space to 'feel'. We have these very needs as adults - heck, I was doing the exact same thing in my hospital bed and the last thing I would've needed was someone playing down the enormity of my feelings, or trying to put a plug in my emotional spill. I needed to release those massive feelings with as many tears as was needed. It gave me relief - albeit short lived - just as it did C.
We all have the same human ways, it's just that we are conditioned as we grow to control our emotions and needs. Children are exactly the same as us, in the rawest form.
You can find information about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), Janet Lansbury and Hand in Hand Parenting here: