There are going to be times when the grown-ups aren't there. When there's no obvious game or activity or rules. Like when you walk up to the bus stop when you're finally big enough to do it by yourself, and none of your usual friends are there. Or when you find yourself without a friend to play with at recess.
These are the unstructured, anxious moments that can feel the hardest. At worst, the bullies come out in full form. But, even without any obvious foe, there are demons within that fuel our self-doubt. And, even the most social, friendly kid has their anxious moments when the grown-ups aren’t there. It’s quite natural. How many adults feel comfortable with silence, with waiting, or with no obvious friend to latch onto?
These unstructured, undefined times are important. They are the teachable moments. We can shrink and hide from them, find a workaround, or even get the grown-ups back involved. And, sometimes you really do just need a break. But, what if we could face them like a Warrior? With preparation, deep breaths, conscious words, and practice.
That’s where the grown-ups come in.
Grown-ups can help kids recognize their feelings, reactions, the thoughts that fuel insecurity, and the other ways of looking at it that give courage. That’s what grown-ups do when they say things like, “Maybe everyone waiting at the bus stop is just as nervous and unsure as you.”
There’s not always an easy answer, but if you can think about the situation in advance, it sure helps. Like during that brief moment in the car before saying “good-bye” to your Mom. Or when you brainstorm as a family over dinner, so everyone can help each other come up with ideas. Even a hypothetical social situation can generate passionate conversations amongst kids about the best, most realistic way to deal. And, when the real situations come, everyone’s already had practice in Warrior ways of thinking and problem solving.
Grown-ups are even more helpful when they can get past the big ideas to actual words young Warriors can use. Specific words. Because when you’re scared, it’s good to have a script.
With some grown-up guidance and practice, children may come up with an infinite number of ways to face the uncertain, anxious moments – and triumph. Here are some practical ideas to get you started. Please talk about it together – grown-ups and young Warriors alike - and add to our list. That way, we can all share the wisdom.
Ideas for Facing the Unsure Moments without Grown-ups
Smile and compliment someone on their sneakers, t-shirt, or backpack. You may make yourself a new friend – or just put someone at ease who is feeling just as unsure as you.
Smile and ask someone a practical question, like “How long have you been waiting for the bus?”
Just Smile. Smiles don’t just come from being happy. They can help you feel happy, too.
Stand up a little bit taller. Holding your body in a powerful posture can help you feel more powerful.
Make up a game for yourself and fully enjoy it, like a scavenger hunt or a challenge course on the nearby stones. Try looking for worms in the dirt. If you have enough fun, someone may be curious and join you – or you’ll just have fun with your awesome self.
Ask someone, “What are we playing?” rather than “Can I play, too?”
Focus on the trees and the sounds of the birds singing, the crossing-guard’s new glasses, etc. Noticing your surroundings can be peaceful and interesting.
Nowadays, the times without grown-ups are much more scarce than they used to be. They’re not always pretty or easy, but they’re important. How will you ever know that you’re a Warrior if you don’t get the chance to shine?