This past weekend, I had a rare evening of simply relaxing with a friend. It’s something I should do more often, but never feel I have the time. In fact, my relaxing evening happened completely spontaneously, as I dropped my daughter off for a playdate. Ready to head home immediately to continue (insert any number of home-based activities here), my friend asked if I wanted to stay and have dinner…so I did!
This rare occurrence could make for a blog entry in and of itself, but something she said that evening has stuck with me, and her words have been repeating themselves in my head for days. We discussed how we get frustrated and angry with our children. We discussed ways to curb our angry outbursts and cultivate patience. We talked about those moments when our children are hesitant or reluctant to try something we KNOW they will enjoy. She referred to a book she’d read years ago and quoted the author, “Kids are always trying to do their best.” Wow. That stopped me in my tracks, and a million real-life scenarios flooded my thoughts. Children are always trying to do their best. I thought back to when my then anxious, risk-averse son refused to join in the fun at birthday parties. A small part of me (the irrational part) assumed he was doing it to bug me by clinging to me –the truth is that he was trying his best but did not yet have the tools to guide him. I thought back to my then fussy, temperamental daughter (hmm…that description is still appropriate for today) having an all-out temper tantrum on the floor of the mall. I only remember feeling embarrassed and annoyed…but really, how can a 2 year old who is so frustrated and angry know how to rationalize and reset? When I let her stay up for an extra 30 minutes, which leads to a cranky-pants at bedtime, why do I find myself irritated with her, when I am the one who shifted her bedtime (knowing that I was walking down a slippery slope)? She was trying her best. The “best” of a child is not the same as our best. Not apples to apples, here.
This summer, you will likely be spending more time with your children than usual. As you undoubtedly encounter frustrating moments with them, please remember that they are trying their best. We need to show provide environments where their “best” works – whether that be an earlier bedtime, or joining in the birthday party yourself!