Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Your Child's Emotional Well Being

The Detriments of Worry and Guilt
Last summer, my then thirteen-year-old daughter Suzannah (not her real name) chose to have a meltdown of all places the produce aisle of our local grocery store. She seemed to be fine when we left to go shopping but within ten minutes of entering the store her whole personality seemed to change. She was stomping around and appeared to be very angry. I asked her to calm down and that just seemed to make matters worse. The volume of her voice had increased so much that other shoppers were pausing to check out what the commotion was about. Finally I had had enough and grabbed her firmly by the arm and took her back to our vehicle to try and calm her down. We both sat in the back seat and for the first fifteen minutes she refused to tell me what the problem was. I was determined to get to the bottom of what had set her off and finally she told me what was bothering her.

Savannah confessed to me that the summer before she had taken something from a convenience store that we had stopped at, to pick up a few supplies for a camping trip. She happened to come across a small toy ring and had pocketed it unbeknownst to her Dad and I. I don’t know what possessed her to do such as thing as I had always told her that it was wrong to steal and I thought she had gotten the message loud and clear. The point I wish to make is not so much that she took the object in the first place which was definitely not appropriate, but rather how long she had held on to the guilt about taking it. Instead of coming to me or her Dad and telling us after the fact, she held it in for over a year until she couldn’t take it any longer. She told me after she took it she hid it in the ashtray of our vehicle and hoped no one would find it. She said that she felt so bad about it but couldn’t tell us what she had done because she was worried about the repercussions. The guilt ate away at her day after day until finally she couldn’t contain it any longer and that was what caused the meltdown in the store.

I truly believe it is important to teach our children that they can come to us whenever they have done something wrong. They need to know that no matter what they have a safe place in which to unburden their soul if need be. I felt so bad after Suzannah told me because she didn’t need to suffer like that. Of course I would have made her return the ring and tell the store manager how sorry she was, but ultimately the punishment that she chose for herself was far worse.

Let your children know that they are loved no matter what and they should always feel safe to tell you if they have done something wrong. Guilt and worry are wasted emotions and can cause great harm a child’s emotional health. Show your children that mistakes are a part of life and what is most important is that we learn from them, so that we never repeat the same one.

Have an awesome day!! KidsGoals


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