I had the talk with my oldest daughter a few nights ago.
No, not that talk...we've already had that talk...she is almost 12, for goodness' sake.
The talk that is triggered because she reacted in an inappropriate way toward her younger sister, because she was frustrated with her. The talk that stems from her not talking responsibility for her actions and blaming others for how she reacts. The talk that is brought about by her lack of self control.
Not only was I upset that she reacted physically, I realized that now was the time to teach my beautiful daughter a very valuable lesson that I am still learning. Every. Single. Day.
Lesson: You cannot control how others act...but you can always control your reaction to it.
Think about that for a moment. It is a statement of great strength. It does not mean that you allow yourself to be belittled, walked over or used. It means that you put yourself in the place of power. You do not allow others to dictate your reaction physically or emotionally, to any situation.
When you are younger, not understanding this lesson means that you react physically and verbally, towards the other person. Kids hit each other, sling every name they can think of back and forth... "You meanie poopie head!"...wrestle each other down, chase each other around the house and depending on the kids...whip out some taekwondo.
When you are older, not grasping this wisdom manifests into far different responses. Well...at least for me. Maybe you still chase those who offend you around the kitchen table and pin them down... When I encounter other people's negative comments, unwanted opinions and irrational actions, I take it personally. I begin to questions my self worth and it eats at me. I feel like I will never be good enough to meet other's expectations of me and it is painful.
It is difficult, at any age, to step back, take a deep breath and realize...I am reacting to this situation...and I don't have to. I have complete control over whether or not I react and how I react. I can allow another person's opinion of me to ruin my day, or I can take it for what it is...someone's opinion. It is not law. It is not fact. It is not my identity. It is someone's thought...that is then expressed verbally...usually not even to my face. If I do not give someone else's thoughts (or verbal vomit meant to provoke) any power, then it is useless.
I know that I will teach my daughter this lesson many times over her life. It is a lesson that is very difficult to learn and very easy to forget. I want her to begin to grasp this concept at her young age and develop self-confidence and self control that is impermeable to the outside world. It will create for her, a future that is limitless.