As parents, it can be difficult to regulate our emotions, especially when we are tired or not meeting our own basic needs. It can also be difficult to stay calm when we’re scared, especially after an accident or near-accident. But as one father recently reminded us, staying calm in a scary situation can make a world of difference to your child.
An adventurous family in Washington state
A 36-year-old Washington state architect named Robert (who has not revealed his last name) has been posting videos of his family for some time. Five-year-old Aubrin and two-year-old Torin often do sports such as snowboarding, skating, hiking or mountain biking. But it was a post from last August that caught fire. Why? Because of Robert’s excellent parenting skills.
In the video, his daughter Aubrin was ice-skating on the ramp they built in their backyard when she took an unexpected (and pretty hard) fall. Instead of freaking out or losing his composure, Robert calmly asked his daughter, “Did it scare you or hurt you?”
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When Aubrin said the fall did in fact hurt her, he checked her for injuries and hugged her. He then complimented her on her techniques to rebuild her confidence.
“Trying something new can be scary, but trying again after you’ve slammed it can be terrifying,” he explained in the caption. “I had to get her confidence back and she had to rebuild her confidence after that slam and it was a tough but beautiful rollercoaster ride.”
A father helps his daughter get back on the board
Instead of forcing Aubrin to come back to the board immediately, Robert gave her the choice of trying again or waiting. “What if I fall again?” Aubrin wondered in the video. “I’m kind of scared … and I really want to do it.”
“Sometimes it’s scary to do difficult things,” Robert replied. “And it’s entirely up to you whether you want to (still) try it now.”
In the end, Aubrin wanted, and she got back in. Then, with her father’s help, she finally got the hang of it.
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“I want to say that I think it’s really amazing that after that fall you got up and got over that fear,” he added of his daughter.
“This is one of the biggest psychological struggles we face as humans because once that negative experience gets into our brain it’s very hard to get it out,” Robert explained in his caption.
“Seeing her hit takes the air out of my lungs and my heart sinks, but I’m just trying to stay calm and redirect with a few questions or comments while I review the situation.”
This touching video goes viral
Many people were quick to praise Robert’s level-headedness throughout the situation, saying they wish their parents had been so gentle and caring about growing up with them after similar accidents, rather than forcing them to try again immediately.
“It’s the classic comeback story of falling down and getting up to try again, something that everyone has experienced in their own life,” Robert later recounted today. “The message is clear: we have to do better,” he continued.
“Our actions in this crucial and short time will have a lasting impact on our children that will impact families and generations to come.”
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In his caption, Robert also explained that it’s not always easy, but it’s crucial. “A parent’s emotions (depending on how you respond instinctively) often influence the child’s emotional response,” he continued.
“It’s my goal to remove my hold and allow her to just be, feel, hurt at her pace, and it allows me to better see how she’s really feeling in those crucial moments… When she’s calm.” lead with empathy and support without exerting pressure, that’s enough.”
We all do our best
No parent is ever perfect. We often think about how we raised our children in a certain situation and how we could have handled things differently. After all, parental guilt is real, and there is no one-size-fits-all manual.
But Robert’s post is an important reminder that staying calm in any situation is always a good way to go. When your child falls, contradicts you, doesn’t seem to be listening, or is just in an outspoken mood, staying calm and not overreacting can make a world of difference to what happens next. Or if you lose your cool (because again, nobody’s perfect), it’s crucial to reach out to your child later and talk about it.
This story also solidifies the idea of not forcing a child to overcome fear, but to examine it and talk about it instead. It may not work in all situations, but as a starting point, this father definitely showed us how.