Did she make a big mistake?Feb 25, 2022
My almost 19 year old daughter Scarlett, has been travelling with her friend Libby in South America. She was due to come back home yesterday for a few weeks and then go travelling with another friend - Jemma.
For one reason and another she decided to stay on, meet Jemma somewhere later and Libby came home.
So I changed her all her flights for her, even though I wasn’t certain she was doing the right thing.
Yesterday evening she called me in tears. She was feeling anxious about whether she’d made a mistake. She was homesick and she was questioning her decision.
Hearing your child far away, anxious and crying is really tough. I’m sure you’ve had this experience even if they aren’t far away.
You want to take their pain away.
You also want to jump in with advice or platitudes.
Here’s how I wanted to respond:
“Why did you do this? I knew that was a mistake”
or “Don’t worry darling (she was worried) it’ll all be ok”
I might have tried: “Oh dear, do you want me to fix it for you and change your flights again so you come home?”
Instead, in the middle of dinner preparations, I put aside my recipe and sat down to focus on talking to her.
“It’s so hard when you start to doubt yourself. I know a big part of you was excited to stay on and have your own adventure, before you meet up with Jemma, and now you’re worried that you made the wrong choice”
A few sniffles.
“Yes, that’s right. I am excited to do volunteering and make new friends. But I’m homesick too and I miss you.”
“It sounds like you’ve got a mixture of feelings and you’re also really sad to have said goodbye to Libby”
“I am. We sobbed when she left. I love her so much.”
“When you made the decision to stay on, you had some really good reasons. I think it was brave of you”
“It was and I’m proud of myself”
The conversation continued like this until she said: “Thank you so much mummy (she still calls me that ☺️). I feel so much better now and I'm going to make the most of it. I really love you”
I felt so glad to have helped her resolve things in her own mind. I learnt many years ago how to find right words and I get so excited when I teach other parents stuff like this in my course The Parent Survival Academy.
Letting our kids make mistakes really is how they learn, and if dive in and criticise them if they make mistakes, they’ll go one of two ways:
They’ll either start to hide their mistake or deny them
or they’ll stop trying, for fear of failing (I’ve definitely done that many times myself!)
Talking of making mistakes, I’m just about to publish my new book “Positive Potty Training – The Nurturing Parent’s Guide”. In it I give you all the steps to successfully potty train and let kids make their mistakes (aka accidents) with it. Watch out for details!
Are you thinking about potty training at some point? Hit reply and let me know!
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