post-playground meltdown

Dear Nana,

Yesterday, I took my 6 year old daughter to that great playground at Treman Park with her good friend.  They had a great time playing with me and my husband and with each other.  After several hours of play, we dropped her friend off  and headed home.  That’s when things started to fall apart.  She complained about sitting in the back.  She cried when we talked about what we were planning to make for dinner “I don’t want spaghetti!” she wailed–and she usually loves spaghetti!  This kept on until she finally fell asleep, not a happy camper.

What’s wrong?  Is my child spoiled?  Did I do something wrong?  Should I stop taking her on these outings?  I thought she had had fun!

Puzzled mom.

Dear PM,

The short answer is no, no, no and no.  Nothing is wrong; your child isn’t spoiled; you didn’t do anything wrong; and you should definitely not stop taking her on fun outings.

I often take my granddaughter to that very same park and I often have the same experience you did.  Your daughter acted in the way children act everywhere after a fun day.  Children, in their young lives, experience stress day to day.  A friend may not want to play with them; a teacher may be having a bad day and act grumpy; a parent, under stress themselves, may not be able to give the attention to the child that she craves.  It’s inevitable as much as we try to prevent our child from getting hurt.

When a child has any sad feelings roaming around inside her, they’ll stand out in her mind against the fun of the day.  The seat in the car, the spaghetti weren’t what was really hard for her.  She might not even have been aware of what it was.  But she wanted those feelings out.  Though adults usually try to tough it out, children refuse to go through life carting these heavy feelings around.  It’s a sign of their intelligence and hopefulness that they won’t.

What to do is easy:  get close and just listen to your child wail.  You’ll be surprised, if she can keep going until she’s ready, how relaxed and delighted she’ll be.

Let me know how it goes.                                                                                                            the blogging nana

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