Help Your Kids Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

lacrosse-mom-and-daughter

As women—and especially mothers—we want to ensure everyone is comfortable and happy. We can’t help ourselves; it’s instinctive.

When it comes to our kids? We will do anything to save them from heartache.

I remember watching my son walk into his kindergarten room on his first day of school. He didn’t want to leave me. He stayed behind, clung to my dress, started crying and said he didn’t want to go to school anymore. I remember thinking: Just kill me now. It was a horrible feeling.

Once his new teacher came out to greet him, he was all smiles, and I knew he was going to make it through the day. In an instant, I was okay because he was okay.

When our kids are struggling, we feel it. When they are happy, we feel it.

Emotions can’t stop life from being lived, though. I realized very soon after that tough first day of school there would be many more times when my kids would be uncomfortable. It is hard to get used to the fact that parenting is one big journey that is laced with second-guessing yourself. And. So. Much. Guilt. We are constantly looking to our kids as a gauge for how we are doing; it’s the story of our damn lives.

I consider myself to be an average parent at best. If you take my bad days and add them to my good days, I am a solid C. I can be inpatient, I don’t like to play with my kids and I’ve been known to eat their Halloween or Easter candy then lie about it the next day.

One thing I can’t help is when my kids are scared or nervous about starting a new adventure. Sure, I can be there for them and talk them through it, but I can’t take it away. It’s a feeling that belongs to them, and feelings should be listened to because they aren’t wrong.

I used to try doing this by talking them out of feeling a certain way. When you think about it, this is total bullshit. They are going to be scared, nervous and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean they can’t take that emotion and succeed anyway.

Recently, my daughter attended her first lacrosse game. She told me how nervous she was because everyone else was “so much better” than her.

I caught myself opening my mouth to tell her she shouldn’t be nervous. But I stopped. Would it have taken her nervousness away? No. It may have even made her feel worse if I’d told her she shouldn’t feel a certain way.

So I didn’t say it.

Instead, I told her she could still be nervous, show up and kick ass anyway. Because we’d both acknowledged that she was nervous, she then let me know her goal was to score a goal.

I told her to repeat her goal out loud and let herself be okay with being nervous. She could be nervous and still play the game.

And guess what?

She scored a damn goal.

I got an A in parenting that day, which is good, because the day after that, I screwed up really bad. Remember: It’s all about balance and showing up even if we are nervous we are going to screw up.

That’s what this parenting game is all about.

About Katie Bingham-Smith

Katie Bingham-Smith had three kids in three years and crafts her ass off in order to stay sane. She loves to write, wear faux leather pants, eat at burger joints and make beautiful things. She pays her kids to rub her feet and play with her hair. You can see more of her writing on Scary Mommy, Babble, Grown and Flown, Mom.me, She Knows, Momtastic, and Mommyish.