This was a great example to me of how validating a child’s feelings, and acknowledging them the way the want us to, fosters independence when they’re ready:
Logan noticed some skin peeling between her toes last week and freaked out. I told her that it was normal and that it had happened to me before, and that it would go away. She was very upset and sat holding her foot and wouldn’t let me touch it. I sat down beside her and asked her if she wanted to breathe together, which I usually do when she’s getting worked up (or being disrespectful). We breathed and I said, “You know Logan, when I get a booboo that scares me, I close my eyes and say to myself: ‘I can take this. I am a strong girl. I will be okay, even though I’m hurting now.’ She looked at me doubtfully and I asked her if she wanted to try, and she did. Then we breathed more and she looked at her toe and said, “Id full beddow.”
Just now, days later, she slipped and landed on her bum. I was doing my own thing and waited to see what she needed from me. She didn’t even turn to me though; she closed her eyes and said, “I gan take dis. I a shong guwl.” Then she breathed in and out with her eyes still shut, about six breaths. She looked at me and she was very pleased; said she felt better and went right back to playing. It’s the second time I’ve seen her do it.
I’m a sap, I know, but it really makes me happy when I can give my girls those fundamental, invisible tools that they can carry with them always, and use when they need them. I’d honestly almost dismissed Logan’s toe skin and just told her she’d be fine. It’s a reminder to me that what I may perceive as a minor incident can be an opportunity to teach my children great lessons. I can’t know how Logan truly feels about certain things, because she can’t always express herself accurately enough. By acknowledging her and teaching her a coping mechanism, I assured she felt I supported her as far as I could, and equipped her to be able to make herself feel better as well. She has an independent spirit and does not like to cry (she thinks she’s too tough, I tell her it’s okay), and I know that she is happy to be able to stabilize her own emotions. I learn quite a bit from my little teachers. =)