Do you remember when your child was learning to walk? Do you recall those moments when they stumbled and fell? It was during those times that they would often look to you for your response. If you rushed to their side, they would likely become more timid and nervous than if you offered reassuring words.
The same principle holds true today. Our actions speak volumes to our children. Just this week, my child embarked on the camping trip they had been so anxious about. While driving to school, my child complained of a stomach ache. I reassured my child that it was completely normal, as our brains and stomachs are intricately connected. Recent research has even shown that our stomachs are often referred to as our second brains. Therefore, my child’s upset stomach came as no surprise, given the anxiety I had observed.
Shortly before lunch, I received a call informing me of an accident involving the bus carrying my child and their classmates on the trip. Fortunately, no one was injured, though some of the kids were understandably shaken. The school informed me that the children would have lunch with their teacher in their classroom and that we could pick them up anytime between 13:00 and 15:30, the usual end of the school day.
Initially, I had planned to be at the school right at 13:00 because I wanted my child to feel safe. However, as time passed and I contemplated the pickup, I decided not to rush and pick them up as soon as possible.
Upon reflection, I realized that by hurrying to retrieve my child, I might inadvertently send a message different from the one I initially intended. I wanted my child to understand that I had confidence in the teacher’s ability to keep them safe. Accidents can happen; it’s a part of life.
The school did an exceptional job responding to the accident. Each child had the opportunity to speak with a specialist about their feelings. It came as no surprise that my child was a bit shaken, as they had not yet formed strong friendships or found their grounding. However, I know that the school and all the adults involved did their utmost to reassure my child.
When I finally arrived at the school to discuss whether my child wanted to come home (I believed it was important for them to have a say in the decision), I was met by support staff and teachers. They shared with me how my child had reacted and what to expect. My child had mentioned missing their toys and home but seemed content to stay and draw. They also expressed a desire to arrange a playdate after school with a newfound friend.
I am immensely grateful that my child, along with all the other children, is safe. Accidents are an inevitable part of life, and going through such events helps shape us. How we, as parents, react helps our children develop their own coping abilities and understand their reactions. I’m also aware that when I’m not overly emotional (which can often happen to expat parents navigating new situations), my responses tend to be more rational, which, in turn, helps my child remain calm.
Psssttttt…If you haven’t been able to stay super calm for your child recently, don’t worry; I completely understand. It takes practice, and the fact that you’re thinking about it is a significant first step. You are amazing, and your child is incredibly lucky to have YOU!