Positive Side

Last week it was extremely hot around here. My brain refused to work, and I forgot about Klara’s water day at summer camp.

Water days are a big deal. Kids love them. There are sprinklers, water slides, and huge rubber water hydrants that release gusts of water. Klara loves them. But I forgot to pack her swimsuit and a towel, so she had to stay behind in the classroom when everybody went to have sprinkler fun.

“I’m so sorry!” I said when I came to pick her up. “I completely forgot.”

“It’s OK, Mommy!” she said. “Let’s look at the positive side. “

“What is the positive side?” I asked.

“I didn’t have to be outside in the heat and stayed in a cool, shady classroom instead.”

I was happy. She’s had a stretch where she catastrophized little frustrations, like all kids do. “Mommy, I had a horrible day! I wanted an extra apple juice but they only had orange!” It’s normal in childhood but I’ve seen adults spoil their own lives by fixating on tiny negatives. Life is filled with small daily frustrations, and being able to bear them with humor and a good cheer is an important life skill.

The only way to teach tolerance for frustrations is by personal example. Lecturing about how “this is a small thing and you shouldn’t get so upset” is completely counterproductive. Kids feel like you don’t care about their feelings and begin to catastrophize more, not less. I’m very glad I’m achieving success in this area.

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