After years of parenting and teaching, I've come to a conclusion...it is alright to cry. And, more importantly, it is alright to allow children to cry.
If you simply take a snapshot into my house or classroom, you might see a child crying alone. And I think that is ok....yes, I said it, its ok to leave a child alone when he is crying. This might seem like I am insensitive or unsympathetic but it is actually quite the opposite. I always consider the entire context of the situation and WHY the child is crying. Then I provide the level of interaction the child wants and needs. As an adult, I sometimes want to just sit alone and let it all out...sometimes I want my husband to hold me...sometimes I want to talk about it as the tears run down my face. Children are the same way.
For example, today one of my students was really mad at me for taking her take gum out of her mouth. She cried to express this. After an initial attempt to soothe her, it was clear she didn't want to have anything to do with me and just needed a moment to get her anger out and move on (which she did). My 7yo often gets very frustrated with life and just breaks down and sits and cries. He doesn't want to be cuddled or even really noticed...but just cry and express how terrible his life is. Then he is done and moves on. I also often encounter children who cry when they want something instead of using language to ask for help. There are times when I will go ahead and take care of whatever they need and times when I will wait patiently for them to use words I know they have to ask for what they need.
I try to assess the situation and provide whatever the child might need. If they need to cuddle in my lap, great. If they need to lay on the floor and let the tears flow, fine. I am there to provide whatever they want. I also try to give children the language and coping skills to cope with their emotions and know how and when to ask help.
Its Alright to Cry sung by Rosey Grier in Free To Be You and Me