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What Are My Actions Teaching My Daughter?

Does it bother you when things don’t go the way you imagined they would or the way you think they were “supposed to”? This seems to be a recurring theme for me in life & in parenting.

I took Rae to an outdoor class. She had an incredible time, but things didn’t go exactly the way I thought they would. Rae came in and out of the activities, going up to every person’s blanket saying “hi,” leaving a trail of muddy sneaker prints behind her. At one point she saw some dogs being walked on the path nearby & went to greet them. I don’t know what it was, maybe a fear of judgment, but I found myself feeling anxious.

I recognize that this was totally developmentally appropriate for a young toddler. So much of what I believe about child development on a professional & personal level is based on the idea of following a child’s lead, having realistic & fair expectations, & that exploration without a specific intention should be valued. And here my daughter was, doing just that, but I found myself feeling unsure. Should I be telling her to sit down on our mat? To follow along?

At one point there was an activity of a cone set up with rings that fit over it, almost like a ring toss. Rae grabbed all the rings off the cone and put them on her arms like bracelets. She squealed with glee calling “Mama!” and running to show me. Pride & confidence radiated from her. And I had this illuminating moment.

What message would I be sending Rae if I’d told her in that moment to stop? That that wasn’t the way to play the game. What beliefs could form for her? That it’s not okay to have fun? That there’s a way you’re supposed to do it & she’s doing it wrong? That she shouldn’t think outside the box?

Maybe Rae wasn’t doing exactly what was intended. But she was having fun, learning, exploring. She was being uniquely herself. She wasn’t hurting anybody or endangering herself. (Of course in those cases I set a boundary).

So I wanted to share this here because maybe you’ve felt this way. And when those anxieties creep up for me again, as they inevitably will, I’m going to try to keep all of this in mind. And try to find that confidence and self-assuredness that Rae has. ❤️

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