Our kids learn how to deal with hard moments by observing how we react to daily challenges. Our reactions are powerful teachers. It is important our reactions are informed and examined by us and us only. I am talking about that lovely voice of truth deep within us. When I was younger, I would get very upset if someone messed up any of my things such as messing up my perfectly tidied room or ruining one of my lipsticks. I no longer resist such natural mishaps of the day. The other day, my six year old daughter accidentally ripped our backyard umbrella. She immediately looked at my husband and I for our reaction. I noticed my old self wanting to get mad, upset and agitated. Yet, the newer version of me knew better and was able to calmly address it.
My husband and I are both united in how we meet such circumstances (most of the time). We calmly narrate the reality of the situation and then help her learn the next steps to avoid similar mistakes. This sounds like: The umbrella ripped. What did you learn? I know what you are thinking... She will do it again if she doesn't receive a more emotional reaction. She will grow up to be an entitled trouble maker who has no respect for things. Such reactions will not empower our children to do better next time. I also used to act upon such unexamined thoughts every single day. I now know that I can choose to live my life guided by love or fear. Fear says, "I wish this didn't happen. You should feel bad about it." Love says, "This happened. Now what can we do about it?" Which one sounds more empowering to you? Which one feels more true to who you are and who you want to be deep within? We can argue with reality and suffer every single day. Or we can accept reality and focus on the future (the next steps). I never had this mindset until now. This slight shift of perspective can create the greatest shift in how we experience our days and eventually our entire life. You can choose the perspective that makes you suffer (rage, anger, resentment, etc.). Or you can choose the perspective that brings you peace. Either way, the reality of the situation will not change. It truly is that simple. This morning with a cup of tea in my hand, I looked out the window. The ripped umbrella stood right in front of me. I noticed a thought try to enter my mind space. It said "You need to replace this umbrella. I wish she didn't rip it." And then my heart smiled. I felt love for this umbrella. It is still completely usable. And more than its use, it gave my family a gift. A gift that will forever teach our daughter that bad things happen all the time and that is ok. It is what we do next that counts. It is the hard stuff that gives us the gift of growth. We become stagnant otherwise.
I am grateful for this umbrella and all the other tiny mess ups around our house. They tell beautiful stories that have taught our children some of the most important truths in life.
3 Actionable Tips for When Kids Mess Up
Recommended Reads based on this blog:
The Work by Byron Katie
The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukov
Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown