A few months ago about the 2nd week of school, my third grade daughter was called “stupid” by one of her classmates. She, her classmate and two other students were seated in a pod working on an assignment. The teacher instructed them to complete the front of the worksheet but my daughter continued onto the back after completing the front. Her classmate called her “stupid” because she was doing something different.
This classmate wasn’t just any classmate. I knew his mother well. His mother and I were in PTO together and had several conversations about school, activities and our kids. My first reaction was to send his mom a friendly little text telling her about the situation and how my daughter’s feelings were crushed and suggest her son apologize. But then I thought better of it and decided to have a teachable moment with my daughter.
We talked about dealing with adversity in life and how some people just don’t like us or may say mean things. We talked about ignoring negative comments that you know don’t apply to you and knowing who you are. She felt better after our discussion and I did too. We both learned valuable lessons–for her, dealing with difficult situations and moving forward was key. For me, learning to let go of my child in a way that allows her to handle difficult situations and think and do for herself was critical. As it turns out, after that one incident, that classmate, hasn’t had another mean word towards her.
The sooner we equip our children to handle all life throws their way the better off our children will be. Otherwise, we are enabling and crippling them which hinders them from truly maturing and becoming independent thinkers. You might think at 7, 10 or 15 years old that they need you to hold their hands in every situation but they don’t. It just makes us feel good, needed and important. However, one of the best things we can do for them (and ourselves) is to allow them to spread their wings with our guidance. We can land our helicopters and let them go and experience life.
~Coletta Jones Patterson
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