Helping Our Kids, Helping Ourselves
While we were away, I watched my daughter battle her fears to attend a new school. While I was interviewing single mums and working on a new book, she was to go to class. She seemed comfortable enough in the idea until two days before starting. Then the nerves set in.
In the end, she was fantastic and approached her first day with an attitude from which any adult could learn. She simply did as one of my favourite authors, Susan Jeffers,suggests. She felt the fear but did it anyway. It was inspiring to see. I have always tried to lead by example and it’s not been straightforward or easy to do all the time. I know where my failings lie. Of that I am critically clear. But I am also the type who will address those failings and either accept them or do something about them. There’s no point in moaning about it. No, I do believe in what Susan Jeffers says and that’s to push through the fear. The questions is, how?
When it came to my daughter and her new school, we looked at the worst possible scenarios. The idea is to consider the worst things that could happen and then imagine how you would feel about them, but more importantly, how you would handle them. By doing so, you tend to weaken the fear. So our list went something like this…
Fear 1: She might be bullied for being different. We rated that at a 5 % chance of happening, so that fear was dismissed very quickly. Fear 2: She might be way behind the others in subjects she has never studied, English history or Spanish for example. But after discussing it, she agreed that it would just mean a bit more study initially to catch up and that wasn’t actually a scary thought. It would just require more effort. Fear no. 2 gone. The biggest fear and the most valid one was Fear no. 3: nobody befriending her. Being isolated and alone at lunchtime was a genuine fear. We rated it as a 50% chance of happening.
So we came up with a few strategies to minimize the possibility. Instead of waiting for others to welcome her, she could be the one to go up and introduce herself. If they weren’t friendly, she was to keep trying until she found someone who was. I also reminded her that it was not only them that had a friendship to offer or decline. She also had her wonderful self to offer them and the option to walk away. It was important for her to value herself at that time particularly and see herself on more equal ground.
She handled her first day brilliantly and came home with more enthusiasm than I could have ever hoped for. Two new friends were made and a strong new lesson was learned. Push through your fears and great things can happen. I may have guided my daughter through that experience but I learned much from her ability to follow through. After all, she had to do it all on her own. We all do. We can all gain much inspiration and strength from each other and from our children. Valuing the courage in others can help us find our own.