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  • Clara Mei

It's okay to feel uncomfortable when you see your child struggling...

Man, who else knows what it feels like to see your child struggle and want to fix it?! Well, the other night- my son brought his test to his dad to sign. Needless to say he didn't do as well as he thought he could and felt bad about it. My husband thought it would be good to ask him what he could do to improve his test score the next time. Sounds reasonable enough. But I think my son was already feeling a bit of shame about the test, and I could tell that as my husband was asking questions- my son was becoming more and more flooded with emotions. His eyes started welling up, and I could tell the thinking part of his brain was starting to shut down. I started to get involved, and my husband calmly but firmly told me to not get involved. So what does a mom do?? (Not fun!)

Well, first I decided to try and calm myself down because yes you and I both know we've been down this road before and me getting upset just makes everything worse. So I focused on deep breathing---DEEP breathing! It was not easy! Really I should have just walked out of the room. BUT- something told me to just stick it out...I think this went on for 15 minutes although it felt like an hour. And slowly but surely, my son did start to come around and was able to answer my husband's questions about how to strategize for better study habits. In the end I did have to give my husband kudos because he kept calm the whole time--even though I wished he had just backed off when he saw my son getting overwhelmed...

So there it was, yet another learning experience. I realized how important it is that I don't try and save my son when he gets overwhelmed and rushed with feelings. For my son, when things get uncomfortable or challenging- he doesn't throw a temper tantrum--he tends to keep stuff in...But I can tell he starts to shut down, gives up, and suddenly the task just seems impossible. So when I see my son struggling like this, my instinct is to want to save him from this pain and to make him feel better. But I have learned with other challenges-- and then it became VERY clear last night, that interfering with the process of the struggle does him more harm than good. I learned that it is the struggle that makes him realize that he can do the hard things! And yes, this all is very logical sounding--and we've heard similar things before. But putting it into practice really is another real struggle that us mommas need to keep remembering! It's not just our child's learning experience, it is ours too...

If you're having some mom-tendencies that you would like to change and rework, e-mail me and we can figure out a plan forward that would be more fulfilling for both you and your children! And your husband might just thank you for it too!

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