I don't want to go to school today!
I’ve just dropped the kids off at the bus, and I thought I'd record this quick video for you, because we had one of those mornings. You know the ones - where things go in slow motion and mysterious illnesses have popped up overnight and “I don't want to go to school today, mum”.
Luckily, in our household, they’re much less frequent than they were - but they still happen.
The instinct I had as a parent used to be, buoy them up, send them off to school - “you'll be fine! Don't worry about it” but that's not actually super helpful and over the years I've come up with a better tactic.
And there are five main steps that I thought I'd share with you today.
The first one is to try and nail down what it is they're fearful about. They don't want to go to school because there's something going on. And if you can work out what that something is, then you've got some information and information is power to help them sort out what's going on.
The second thing - acknowledge that their fear is real. All of us experience fear and have fear of doing new things or scary things. It’s a totally human emotion, and they don't need to feel any shame about it.
Thirdly, fear is a time travel emotion. It's this sneaky emotion that comes up from the past. Something’s happened in the past that makes them feel fearful about what might happen today. And that's the word, ‘might’.
Yesterday's history - tomorrow's a mystery, we’ve only got today - Don't let the past define the decisions you make now. You can remind them of that.
Then the fourth thing - once you've had that conversation and you've given them a hug, get them to move, and I literally mean move! Get them to bounce on the bed or do jumping jacks on the floor, because that physical movement helps dissolve fear. If you sit with them and you give them a big hug and their energy lowers, and their shoulders go down -that state lets fear grow.
If you get up and move it helps dissolve fear.
And as you get older, you can still use that tactic, but you can double it up with - taking action - you have to give a speech today? Right, well, let's quickly write some cards, so that you feel like you're a bit more prepared. Take action on whatever it is that you're fearful about, and you'll be on the way to beating it.
And the fifth and most important thing is to remind them that there's only one way that they can fail today, and that is to give up, and stay home. That's failing. Anything else is a learning experience. So go to school. Give it your best shot. Come home and say that you did and that's the victory for today.
So maybe next time you have one of those mornings in your household one of those ideas might help.
I hope they do - I’d love to hear about it!