I recently had an inspiring parenting moment with my 3 year old daughter. It was late and I was tired after a long day. I made a conscious decision to get down on the floor with her and play, even though I really wanted to be distracted by the 10 other things on my to-do list. While Lucy and I were playing with one of her favorite toys, she became frustrated about something and walked out of the room.
I called out to her to ask what was wrong and she came moping into the room quite dramatically. I asked her if she was feeling sad or mad and she said, “Sad” with a pouty look. So I scooped her up and we sat down in my leather recliner together to have a talk. I quickly found out that she was upset because she just couldn’t figure out how to connect the pieces of her Zoob toys. I said, “I know that you are sad honey and that is ok, but you don’t have to leave the room when you get sad.” Then I shared with her some of the things she could do when she gets upset. I said, “You can always tell Mommy or Daddy that you are sad, you can come ask for a hug, or you can ask us for help if you are frustrated.” I also added that she could tell us that she wanted to spend some time alone. Our conversation was brief. I gave her a squeeze and we got up to go find out what her little sister was getting into.
As I sat with my wife and my youngest daughter, I noticed that Lucy left the room again and I wondered if she was alright. A moment later she came walking back into the room with her head hanging low. Then she silently walked up to me with her arms open wide and embraced me. Without any words she walked back out of the room. My wife said, “What is she doing now?” and I replied, “I think she is spending some time alone.” I soon realized that my sweet daughter was role-playing the conversation that we had just finished moments earlier.
Soon after, she came back into the room, again with an exaggerated sad demeanor, while trying bravely to hide a smile. I loudly exclaimed, “Wait a minute. You’re not sad anymore!” Upon hearing my words, she started screaming gleefully and jumping towards us while we all laughed together. I was on my best behavior as a parent that night, but I will admit that I don’t always follow my own parenting advice. I can’t help but think about how many wonderful things might happen if I would slow down more often, resist the distractions of life and enjoy emotionally connected, teaching moments with my children. This was certainly an enjoyable and proud moment for me as a father.