Trust doesn't mean a child will handle everything perfectly. Last week in 'Trust What They Know' I wrote about trusting something deep in each human being that guides them in the direction of their true interest and needs. Today I want to add to that.
One way we can trust our kids is by allowing them to make mistakes. I started to practice this a long time ago with cookies! When we had treats, the kids were allowed to have one serving size. I started to feel a little strange, teaching them to consult a box and me about what to eat. So I tried something different, suggesting they feel how much felt right.
Without trust, it's kind of crazy to put kids in charge of dessert, but I knew that I wanted to help them listen to the wisdom of their own bodies rather than something purely external when choosing how to eat.
I encouraged them to have one or two, then wait a bit to see if that seemed like the right amount. Unsurprisingly, one of my sons ate more cookies than usual. A little later, he came and sat with me, saying "Mom, I think I ate too many, I feel a little yucky." He recognized the feeling and knew how to make a different choice the next time.
For my son to learn this, I had to let go of control. I had to let him feel a little uncomfortable. I had to risk that he would make a mistake. As small as it was, it felt like a big deal. It even feels strange to write about it, like moms everywhere will judge me. But the truth is, this created a big shift in our family toward kids being aware of their own limits. I think this self-awareness has had a positive impact for years, and I think it will continue to pay off as they get to know their limits with alcohol and whatever else may come up for them.
As a mom (to 2 teenage sons), wife, and person in the world, I have been on a long imperfect journey. I have made many mistakes, but with mindfulness, emotional reflection, and lots of support I have learned enormously from those mistakes.