Nov 17, 2011

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Reminder: Everyone Has Bad Days (Even Kids)

Reminder: Everyone Has Bad Days (Even Kids)

The other day, my daughter was acting off. She was acting out, being oppositional, in a foul mood, and generally being a pill. I was frustrated, unsure how to help her, and over time… simply annoyed.

I started to worry– was this some new stage? Was this new behavior going to be the “new normal”? It had happened a bit the day before, too– that seemed to be evidence that these worries could come to fruition.

I worried about how best to deal with it. Imagined how my parents would have dealt with me if I had acted this way at her age. Worried what people would think if she continually acted like this in public.

In other words, I showered a parade of horribles onto myself. I let my mind get away from me with planning, fearing, and worrying.

And you know what happened today? My daughter was back to her sunny, upbeat self. She had a great day at school and at home. She had a few moments of opposition, of course. She is five, after all. That’s part of her job.

But all my worries were likely a bit overblown. My daughter didn’t become a whole new person overnight. She had a bad day (or two). This is allowed. This is “normal.” This is, in fact, not unheard of, even in the adult world.

It was all a good reminder to me to chill out. And, yes, if you’re wondering, I need these from time to time (okay, not infrequently). I’m a grade-A worrier, when given the opportunity (and not enough sleep, and a sick baby, and a daughter seemingly acting out-of-whack).

This is what our minds can do when we give them a “problem” to solve. They can spin endlessly out of control until we’ve worked our way into what my grandmother would call “a tizzy.” But a visit back to reality, or a few moments of meditation or yoga (or some other activity you love that can take you out of your mind) can bring you right back.

Another thing that I found helpful was, at the end of the stressful day of worrying, I thought about all the things about my daughter that I love. I tried to take the focus off my worries and put them on my favorite things about her (this can be easier when a child is already in bed sleeping, rather than in a screaming fit). I don’t know if this shift of focus made a difference to my daughter, but it certainly helped me.

And in hindsight, I’m reminded that I’m not the only one who’s going to have bad days. My daughter (and son, of course) will too. I can lay off the worrying, planning, and general freaking, be with what is and know that it, too, will pass. Kids, after all, are people too.

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