My whole family recently trooped to the beach for our first beach hurrah for the year. Right after lunch the kids went to play in the sand again. They were just so happy to be in the water again after several months.
They played until such time that we needed to leave for another island. Because I was not able to prepare much for the trip, I did not have food for them that they could eat in the boat. I knew they would be hungry so I got money from my wallet (thinking Php40 would be enough to buy food for the kids) and passed by the sari sari store before boarding the boat. My money was able to buy three pieces of Fudgee Bars and one pack of Hansel. (So healthy, right?! Facepalm moment, I know!)
The boat we rented was small and only two people can sit side-by-side. Jia and Joya were sitting beside each other. Jia got the Hansel and Joya and Iana got Fudgee Bars each. J was seated behind the kids and offered to open Jia’s Hansel as the water was not calm. Jia politely refused and said she could open it by herself. The next thing I heard was, “Oh no! It fell! Mom, two completely perfect Hansel sandwiches fell!”
The mom in me was like “Oh no! Hindi siya mabubusog! I am sure gutom na gutom pa man din siya! Kawawa naman!” Pre-positive parenting, my husband and I would probably have reacted with “Naku, Jia!!!” or worse, “Hindi kasi nag-dahan-dahan!” or “Sinabing nang ibigay kay Daddy eh!”
But years of practicing positive parenting have apparently changed me and all I said was, “Oh! They fell.”
I could see that Jia was feeling bad. She was hungry and her food fell. I honestly would not have blamed her if she self-pitied or cried a bit. I probably would have. Because of Positive Discipline, I have learned to be less reactive and since I am more attuned to her emotions now, I knew it would have been brutal to shame or blame her.
“What a waste, Mom!” she said while looking at the biscuits on the bangka floor.
“Oo nga, sayang,” I agreed.
I did not offer her the extra Fudgee bar. That would have been rescuing and at that moment, I knew it would not do good in terms of my goal of raising responsible and grounded kids.
We were quiet after that and Jia made do with her two Hansel sandwiches. I did not hear a single whine from her.
I went back to sight seeing and my own thoughts. It dawned on me, yet again, how easy it is to blame kids when an accident happens (kasi hindi sila nag-ingat, hindi sila nag-dahan-dahan, hindi sila nakinig, at iba pa). We tend to tell kids why an accident happened, how it happened, how they should feel that it happened, what they can do so it won’t happen again, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! But when we, the adults, spill or break something, we merely say, “It was an accident.” It might be funny only if it were not so shaming and damaging to the kids’ esteem.
Days after that, when we were looking at pictures, we talked about what happened. (My daughter is actually quite self-aware for her age.) I asked her how she would have felt if I blamed her. She said she would probably have yelled. I then asked how she would have felt if I just did not say anything. She would have felt ignored, she answered. But because I just validated her feelings (Sayang naman talaga!), she coped with what happened on her own.
One thing I have learned, when I let go and let my kids handle problems on their own, they learn and it’s the kind of learning that sticks.
I know I still have to master patience and positive parenting but little wins like this continue to inspire me. 🙂