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This week, my 8-year-old daughter taught me an important lesson about how to get past conflict.
She set a goal for herself in September: To get the award at her girl’s club for being prepared. This meant that she had to wear her full uniform and bring her shoes and workbook every meeting.
I left it up to her to earn it. She had to remember to bring everything when going out the door: No reminders from Mom.
It was difficult for her to do. Eight-year-olds are not that organized. Despite some close calls, I’m proud to say that she did it. In an amazing feat of self-regulation, she brought all her stuff every week for 3 whole months. She was giddy heading into her last meeting of the year — anticipating her reward.
But there was a rule she wasn’t aware of: She needed perfect attendance.
Unfortunately, she was sick with the stomach flu the prior week. Because she got sick, all of her hard work didn’t matter. She didn’t get the award, and was crushed. My normally stoic kid was a puddle of tears in the car.
I talked to her leader, who stood by her decision. The rules are the rules.
I called the decision unfair — because it was.
I had no idea what to tell my daughter. My first instinct was to rationalize the decision — help her understand the logic, and leave her feeling the world is just.
I didn’t do this. The “rules are the rules” approach goes against everything I want her to be: Compassionate, empathetic and sensitive. Withholding her prize was consistent with the criteria set out, but it was harsh.
She needs tools to not let things like this get her down. I decided that the best course of action was to help her move on.
We had a chat. I called the decision unfair — because it was. I, then, delivered on the promise that her leader made to her. I bought her a small gift to recognize her achievement.
This small discussion and recognition was the end of the event for her. She was happy to move on now that her feelings were validated and her effort was recognized. She hasn’t talked about it since.
This got me thinking about my own attitude towards conflict …
- Where do I need to be more like my daughter and not hold out for specific resolution?
- Who else needs a kind word and validation?
It’s awesome that the power to right wrongs doesn’t lie entirely in the hands of the people who cause the problems in the first place.