One morning while clipping my daughter’s nails I made the comment, “Oh, I think I clipped that one too short.” It wasn’t a big deal at first since it didn’t hurt. (If I hadn’t of said anything my daughter wouldn’t have noticed.) But after a minute or two it became the perfect pretext for her tears before school.
She began crying and insisting she couldn’t go to school. I gently told her I was sorry I cut it too short and that I thought it would grow back quickly. She cried more saying she wouldn’t be able to hold anything and therefore couldn’t have any fun at school.
At one point as I listened I felt myself tighten. I could hear an internal dialogue start that I shouldn’t be giving her attention over this. In that moment I wanted to say, “Get over it. You’re crying over nothing.”
Luckily I didn’t. I took a deep breath and realized at her age I didn’t usually get loving-attention when I was upset over little things. I was told to stop crying over spilled milk. I refocused on the present moment and my obviously upset child. I reassured myself that it didn’t matter if the tears were about the nail or not. What mattered was supporting her through this release of upset feelings.
I told her I really believed her finger would be okay and she could go to school, and then I simply held her as she cried more.
As her tears came to a natural end, she easily brushed her teeth, put on her socks (our usual morning issue!) and as she got in the car she happily told me her finger was feeling fine. A little listening was all she needed to get on with her day.