Don't Overreact | Teaching Self-Government

Don't Overreact

While making bread one day I heard confusion coming from downstairs.  After asking the children what was happening I found out that one of our darling little friends, who was over playing, broke a toy and was really worried about getting into trouble.  Apparently, the little five year old girl was playing with a toy when it dropped and broke.  The other children assured her that it would be alright, but she was still worried.

Our sweet friend became so anxious that she hid herself in the bathroom for a while, and when she was found there came out and found another more private place to hide.  At this point, the other girls came to tell me what happened and expressed concern because they didn't know where their friend was.  They started looking for their friend.

After locating their anxious friend the girls offered to read her stories and let her draw pictures to try to help her feel better.  The five year old improved a bit, but wasn't completely consoled.

Throughout this whole episode I could only think of one thing; how was our little guest feeling and why was she so worried?  When the girls told me what had happened, and showed me a broken tea pot which had been mine from my youth, I thought, it's only a thing.  Our visitor is a person.  Her feelings are much more important that any old tea pot.  When the girls couldn't find their friend, I kept wondering why she was so afraid and hoped that I would have an opportunity to calm her fears.

She was obviously afraid of my reaction, and didn't know if I was an adult who could be trusted with her feelings.

Even though she was obviously out of control and completely anxious I couldn't hold it against her.  The fear of the un-known does incredible things to the actions of people.

I asked our sweet visitor to come with me into the next room.  We sat down on the couch and I said, "Holly, a little while ago you accidentally broke a toy which belongs to us and then you got worried about it and felt sad that you had made a mistake and broken someone else's toy."  At this point big crocodile tears began to roll down her face.  I had to let her know she was safe.  "I just want you to know that I don't care about that toy as much as I care about you.  It is an old toy and could easily be broken.  Please know that I am not mad at you for making a mistake.  It makes me happy that you love our family so much that you would be worried about breaking something which belongs to us.  That means you are a really good friend.  I am glad you love our family, because we really love you too.  You are one of our favorite friends."

At this point she was still crying, but I think her emotion clearly changed from sad to happy because she said, "Thank you so much for doing this...I love you too."

We hugged and I said, "Next time you ever have a problem or make a mistake, you can come tell me and I will never be mad at you, because you are more important to me than any thing is."  One more big hug and off she ran.

There is an old saying that says, "Don't cry over spilled milk."  I think this saying is just as much for the Hollys out there as it is for the parents in Holly's life.  Don't overreact.  It never does any good.  If anything, caring too much about a thing just increases anxiety and stress in your life as well as your child's.

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