Imagine this. You’re walking down the stairs in your house and on the last step you twist your ankle. You feel that immediate spike of pain that’s followed by throbbing and tenderness. Naturally you yell out something (likely a curse) to indicate you’re in pain. Now imagine your significant other immediately looks at you and says “You’re fine!”
How do you feel? Do you feel like they give a shit? Do you actually feel fine?
Imagine you come home from work and you’ve had a horrible day. Maybe you lost a big sale or a big account. But you walk in the door defeated. Imagine your special someone asks how your day is and when you tell them they respond with “you’re fine!”
Given these scenarios would you ever confide in that person again? Do you immediately say to yourself “You know what? you’re right I am fine gee thanks!”
Why Do We Do This?
No never! But we constantly do this to our kids and somehow think we are doing them a favor. We are so worried that our kids will grow up weak, sniveling brats that we demand that they ignore physical and emotional pain.
In fact I met a mother who’s kid was struck in the face by a softball during a game. The little girl was about 10 at the time and her front teeth were knocked out. Her mother yelled at her to “get out there and finish the game, you’re fine!” What the hell for? Imagine you’re that kid. Do you feel loved in that moment? Would you feel like mom cares at all? Is a kids softball game seriously that important to you? I marveled at this story and how this person even bragged about treating their kid this way.
So What Am I Saying?
I’m certainly not suggesting that we rush them to the ER for every little scrape. I’m suggesting we give them space to tell us how they feel and the help them sort those feelings out for themselves. Which is impossible to do if their experience is ignored.
Ive often said that as kids we are told what to think and feel but not how to do it. Mostly because we were never shown. Think of a time when you were little and when you were hurt physically and/ or emotionally and your parent/guardian/loved one immediately told you “you’re fine.” Did you really feel fine? Did that help at all? Of course not! If this is such a brilliant way to deal with life why doesn’t every psychologist and self help guru use this?
Conversely if your kid hurts another child do you demand your child apologize or have you taught them to simply state to the other kid “You’re fine”. Why not? Why is that other kids feelings more important than yours? Kind of sends a mixed message doesn’t it?
Do You Use This Approach
If this is something you do with your kids ask yourself why you do it. Whats the underlying belief you have that tells you this is a good approach? I challenge you to explore what this means to you. My guess is that its fear that your kid will grow up to be a big “sissy” or so often we are afraid to look soft or permissive in front of other parents. Could you imagine the horror of showing care and affection in public to the person you claim you love more than anything? (thats why I think parents can be selfish). Well we all experience emotions and pain in life, its inevitable. Shouldn’t we learn how to navigate that? Ask yourself if its some sort of weakness you’re trying to avoid in your kids or is it resilience and grit you’re trying to build. I would argue resilience is not the same as learning to ignore your experience.
Whats The Impact?
I think the biggest problem with this approach is that we create a conundrum in our kids. Think about it. You feel hurt but you’re being told you’re fine. So I need to believe myself which means my parent cant be trusted or I believe my parent which means I no longer trust myself. See the problem? We create a ton of trouble for our kids. We think we are helping them but I believe we are doing the opposite.
If you want your kids to be self sufficient then show them how. Lets not focus on the behavior but WHY its occurring. Lets take a minute to understand how our kids think and feel and THEN calmly guide them back into balance. How about asking “Are you Ok?” “What happened?” “How can I help?”. Once you asses the problem and you’re kid feels understood. Maybe then offer your own assessment in a more positive way by saying something like “I think your going to be ok.” Those words simply offer your opinion instead of judgement. Doesn’t that feel better then throwing a bullshit “you’re fine” their way?
Thank you for reading this Id love to have your comments.