I made a HUGE snack error yesterday. I sent my husband, son and daughter to baseball with a package of cookies for the team that was not nut-free. I know better than this. I have been feeding children snacks for 8 years now. And, on top of that, I am the Snack Coordinator for the baseball team! I don’t know what I was thinking when I walked through Costco and saw this delicious package of cookies. I didn’t check the ingredients. And it didn’t have the nut-free sign right on the packaging. There are so many other items at Costco that I could have purchased that are clearly marked nut-free. I am super embarrassed and ashamed that I did this.
Understandably, the little girl on my son’s team who is allergic to nuts was terribly upset. My son said she was crying. And her mom was mad.
This snack error was the top story to be reported to me when the children got home from the practice. While it was not the very first thing my son told me – first he told me about his home run and his diving catch – this was told immediately after that, almost in the same breath. I really was mortified when I heard this. I felt that tightening in my stomach and heat rushing to my face that goes along with knowing that you have done something bad. But then as I have taught myself to do when dealing with this type of feeling (which is probably a mixture of shame and anxiety), I tried to come up with some ways to make up for it.
I said to the kids … “Well we had better bring something really special and nut free just for this team mate at the next practice. And I will tell her that I am so sorry for making this mistake.” This got my kids thinking more about what else we could do. My daughter suggested that she would make a card for this little girl. I thought that was a great idea.
Then my husband came to give me a few more details about the situation. And the one that made me feel like less of a failure was that he saw our son apologize two different times to the little girl – my son actually says he apologized four times, but that his dad just didn’t see the other two times. I was so proud of him for that.
What was interesting about this was what my five year old daughter said – she said she wanted to apologize, she thought she should, but she wasn’t quite sure what to do. This is what we have to remember – we have to teach our children these things. We have to model the behaviour that we want them to have. Seeing her brother apologize will be something she remembers the next time that she is in a similar situation, and maybe that will motivate her to take action herself.
It is important that we talk about making mistakes with our kids. And if there is a real life situation where you make a mistake, then it is even more important to talk about it with our kids. It shows them that everyone makes mistakes. And by discussing mistakes out loud, it takes the feelings of shame away. Kids need to know this. They need to know that they should not keep a mistake inside and beat themselves up over it. They need to know that everyone makes mistakes and the best way to feel better fast is to take action right away.
Here are my World-Changing Kids Steps for How To Fix a Mistake (and make yourself and the other person feel better):
1. You admit to the mistake with a trusted adult.
2. You talk about the mistake – what you did, how you think it made the other person feel, how it made you feel.
3. You come up with ways to make up for it – this can include an apology, a nice card or picture, some flowers, or, in my case, a nut-free snack!
If we can help all of our awesome World-Changing Kids to learn and practice these three steps, I think that they will be able to go more confidently through the world and complete their awesome world-changing work! That is part of our job as the adults in the lives of these kids. We are in charge of helping them deal with negative emotions like shame and anxiety so that they can be the best World-Changing Kid that they can be and do great things that will make the world a better place.
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