Letting go of control

By Jenna Beck, LSW

Youth First

Often in life, we try to problem-solve everything. We want to be in control of what we do and what happens to us. We often think we have control of something when we do not have control, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. When faced with a problem, it is important to recognize whether we have control.

Example: Your child gets into an argument with another student because they would not share the ball with them at recess. As a parent, we often want to take charge and fix the situation. However, we do not have control of this situation. We are not at school during the day with our child since we are at work. We cannot make the other student be nice or share with our child. We cannot make our child stop feeling upset because the other student was mean to them. All these things are out of our control.

We do, however, have control of our thoughts. We can choose to think positively or negatively about something. Thinking positively about something often leads to positive feelings like happiness. Thinking negatively about something often leads to negative feelings like sadness, anger and frustration. For example, when your child is telling you about the situation that occurred at recess, you might think “That other student was really mean,” which is a negative thought. This could lead to feeling angry and frustrated, which could lead to you calling the teacher and accusing them of not caring or doing anything to help your child; or it could lead to you calling and getting into an argument with the other student’s parent or parents.

Both examples are not good outcomes because of the negative thinking. Instead, you could think, “Sometimes, children don’t want to share; and maybe the other student was having a bad day and just wanted to play by themselves.” Or, “maybe the other student was just upset and did not want to share with my child at that time.” Or, “maybe I could encourage my child to be nice to the other student, even though my child is upset that the other student would not share today.” Or, “maybe the other student will share another day.”

These positive thoughts could lead to you having a good conversation with your child, helping them learn to develop empathy, and helping them to be more understanding about why someone may not want to share. These positive thoughts can take the place of having the automatic thought of “the other student is being mean,” causing the child to feel upset and hurt their feelings.

This concept can be hard to learn since this is something that you may not be used to. This may take some practice and patience; but over time, this new way of thinking can be achieved. This can cause you to feel happier and help your child to feel happier too.

There are other things that we have in our control, such as our feelings, actions and reactions. If you liked this article, please consider reading future articles about this topic. Remember to think positive, and remember that no one else is in control of you and your happiness except for yourself!

Jenna Beck, LSW, serves as Youth First social worker at Resurrection School and Holy Redeemer School, both in Evansville.