Alexandra is super competitive. She does NOT like to lose. I have to admit, she gets it honestly. Neither of her parents is a big fan of losing and Harold’s a pretty sore sport when he wins sometimes. But when it comes to athletics, most especially track, Alexandra’s goal is to win. She will often cry when she loses.

For some that may not seem like a big deal. She’s still very young and crying is a normal way for kids to express themselves when they have big emotions. But for others, it’s totally inappropriate and she has had other adults reprimand her for shedding tears. I know they had her best interest at heart and meant well for her at those moments. But as the mom of a highly competitive athlete, I am perfectly OK with letting her cry when she loses. Here’s why.

Emotional Intelligence is a lesson that begins at home. These three strategies will help you teach your child to manage his/her emotions. Click To Tweet

Crying Is Good For the Soul

Sure it’s an old wives tale, but crying is physically and emotionally healthy. Crying is a natural response to emotional experiences. Some people cry when they’re happy, some people cry when they’re sad, some people cry when they’re angry.

High achieving children often also have a touch of perfectionism that leads to very big emotions when things don’t go as they expect. Crying is a natural and developmentally appropriate response.

Whenever your child is moved to tears the best thing to do is let them come. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are releasing the stress, frustration, and tension they’ve built up in a normal and healthy way.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. ~ Maya Angelou Click To Tweet

Emotional Health Must Be Taught

If you haven’t seen the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out I highly recommend it for all parents. In a nutshell, 12-year-old Riley experiences a world of turmoil when her family moves and her whole life changes. The main characters are the emotions that live in her brain – Joy, Sadness, Anger, and Disgust. Following Joy’s lead, they work together to guide her back to the happy kid she was before the move. Once they discover that not only is Sadness very smart, but also great at communicating, they are able to get Riley the help she needs to be happy again.

Children must be taught how to manage their emotions. High achieving children must be taught how to manage their big emotions in a way that doesn’t cause undue attention and added stress. When emotions are not addressed at the moment they occur, they tend to come out later in a worse way.

We allow Alexandra to cry when she loses because we want her to acknowledge the emotion she is feeling. Losing does not feel good and disappointment is a normal emotion to experience. We give her the space to feel those emotions immediately. That way she can process those feelings and move on from that moment productively.

Also Related: Helping Your Teenager Manage Stressful Situations

Emotionally Intelligent Parenting Is Key

Emotional Intelligence is so important to parenting. Knowing how to help your child navigate their feelings is a major parenting skill. But mastering that skill begins with being in tune with your own emotions.

Emotional Intelligence is a lesson that begins at home. Educational systems have not gotten around to include emotional elements of learning into curricula.  So understanding that when your high achiever is emotionally triggered it will take less than a second for adrenaline to hit their system is crucial to teaching them self-moderation.

When your high achiever is triggered emotionally their bodies respond before their brains form thoughts. If you ask them what’s wrong and they say, “I don’t know,” it’s probably true. It is important to learn their triggers and teach them to know and understand their triggers. Then give them enough time and space to feel and process those feelings before intervening. When children learn to manage their emotions, they won’t always need your assistance.

How do you help your high achiever manage their emotions? Do you let them cry?