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.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.