A parenting fail by me. A few words that hurt and mean a lot to a six year old. A criticism instead of a compliment. Another humbling moment.
It started off simple enough. My kids were doing their chores. Anna had chosen to swifter the kitchen. It’s constantly dirty and this is a very practical task. It should be a very helpful task. That’s what I’m aiming for, to make my life just a little easier and teach them a little responsibility. And, my six year old is a lot more responsible than most. She likes to clean, play little mommy, and tell her older brother what to do. She’s actually pretty bossy, at times (would never, ever guess who’s she’s imitating!).
So when instead of complimenting her and applauding her efforts, I criticize her for not getting the floor clean enough; I realize I can be a real as@h*#e! When she’s done with the floor, I look around and notice the dirt and dust still around the corners and hiding under the table. The floor itself doesn’t look that clean, to me.
Being cranky that they’ve been arguing all day, sleepy (and what’s new), and not having the best day, I snap that “the floor doesn’t look that good, and I’m hoping that they will make less of a mess for me, not more.” She stops, looks at me, and says calmly, “THAT’S A MEAN THING TO SAY WHEN I’VE TRIED MY BEST.” (See, as@h*#e- mom)
She truly has a great point. Instead of pointing out what she’s done wrong, it would be much more productive and kind to compliment her efforts. I sometimes forget she’s only six. She spends more time with me than any other person on earth. She looks up to and admires me. My opinion matters more than anyone else’s in the world.
So, I stopped and immediately apologized. I said I was sorry. I told her she was right and she did do a good job. She did the best she could do.
This whole, short scenario is symbolic of something bigger and more significant, though. Why do we focus on the small amount of dirt and dust in the corners, instead of the whole, open floor? In life, why should we worry about the little things that others don’t really notice or care about anyway?
Little words like this can hurt. Teachers, parents, and adults forget how much our words mean to children. We are frustrated, short-tempered, or just annoyed and talk without thinking. But, I tell you about these little words and dust to remind you to stop and use your words wisely. Like an acronym I have hanging in my room at school. THINK:
And us moms should practice the Golden Rule more too, especially to those we love most. I’ll forgive myself for this one because she quickly did. But, we can’t make a habit of nipping away at our children. Nit-picking, using too many words or even hurtful ones is not going to make them listen or respect you more. This minute is a reminder to me to be more patient, less judgmental, and more appreciative. Applaud effort, even if it’s not perfect. Now, go give your little ones a hug them for trying their best!