Ever had a day when absolutely nothing seemed to go right? Spilled coffee without a Shout Wipe in sight followed by a mandatory morning meeting when you’re running late to the office? Your best friend bailed on lunch, and the document you’ve been working on for weeks has somehow vaporized into thin air? Got all the grocery shopping done, battled the endless check-out lines, only to realize you left your wallet at home?
Mmmhm. We’ve all been there. Yet so often, when asked the seemingly simple question, “How was your day?” you likely tend to respond by telling people everything’s fine—regardless of how hairy things have been. But that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do when it comes to your daughter. In fact, you should make a point to talk to her—in an age-appropriate way, of course—about the annoyances, disappointments, and other general crud in your day!
“Challenges and failures are a normal part of life,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “And as parents and caregivers, it’s important to raise our children—especially girls, who are so often steered away from negative feelings like anger, sadness, or frustration—to understand these experiences are to be expected, and negative emotions often totally appropriate. She needs to know it’s OK and important to talk about them with the people we trust.”
Nobody’s perfect, and life isn’t exactly a tidily wrapped package tied with a bow, despite what many movies and TV shows would have our children believe. That said, helping your girl to embrace challenges and accept moments of struggle can help her become stronger and better prepared to persevere in our sometimes difficult world. Plus, it will hopefully help her feel more comfortable sharing the not-so-great parts of her day with you, including having discussions about what she can learn from them, or what could be done to make those aspects of her life better.
And one thing you really might not have thought about is that as much as you want to be there for your daughter when she’s having a rough time, she probably wants to be there for you when you’re dealing with a tricky situation or are feeling a bit low—because she loves you! By listening and understanding that your day didn’t go the way you hoped it would, she’ll develop her emotional intelligence, empathy and feel good about being able to help others. Plus? You’ll probably get a much-needed hug out of the deal! Win-win.