“Today was the worst day ever!” my daughter cried.
Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter came home from school, dramatically declaring she’d had the worst day ever. Of course, I wanted to know what had happened, so she began recalling her day in great detail. Her story went on for quite some time, as she tried to convey how mean people were and how unfair her life was.
I sat and I listened, occasionally asking her questions, like ‘do you think that was the right thing to say?’ and ‘do you think you could’ve done anything differently?’
As grown-ups, we know that life has its difficulties, and it’s important that we allow our children to experience a full range of emotions even though our instinct might be to want to protect them from pain and suffering. I reframed her unfair life, into a bad day, which I explained even adults have!
It’s so important we allow our children to be held accountable for their role in things. There are always three sides to a story; your child’s version, the other child’s version, and then there’s the truth. My daughter reacted inappropriately in anger. She called her friend a cheat, and in turn her friend reacted with her own comeback of negative name calling. I tried to explain to Lily that she’d played a part in what happened, despite her feeling like the innocent victim. It was her words that escalated the situation to the next level.
As parents we want to protect our children, and assume that our beautiful, precious babies are incapable of being mean and hurtful to others. I think more parents need to open their eyes. By stepping in and trying to fix situations for our children, we are robbing them of opportunities to demonstrate resilience and growth.
After listening to Lily’s outpouring of grief over her day, I knew I needed to turn things around. Earlier in the day, I’d read about an activity that helps children develop their self-worth, and so I thought I’d give it a try.
I took out 2 pieces of paper. I gave Lily a piece and asked her to write down 10 things she liked about herself, and told her I was going to write down 10 things I liked about myself on my paper. When we were done, we placed our papers face down in front of us.
We then got another piece of paper each, and on Lily’s she had to write 10 things she liked about me, and I had to do the same for her on my paper.
Once we were finished, we read each other the things we liked about each other and then compared them to the things we liked about ourselves.
The huge smile on Lil’s face said it all. She had gone from sadness, to realising that despite what happened in her day, she’s a pretty cool person with a lot to be thankful for.
It’s suggested that girls who have confidence and a strong sense of self-worth, are better prepared to deal with mean girl environments when they are faced with them.
Our job as parents, is to help our children understand that they aren’t perfect, that they will never be perfect and that life can be tough sometimes. Equally it’s our job to help them see that a bad day doesn’t equate to a bad life. As I said to Lily yesterday, the best thing about life is that the sun rises each and every day offering a fresh start and a clean slate.
Are you interested in learning more about helping your daughter navigate her way through this image obsessed world of ours? You can pre-enrol for Mirror Movement Courses here.
Have you read my blog ‘Mummy, you’re not going to be happy.’