I was recently reminded how tough it can be to change our behaviors. When we identify something about ourselves we want to change, it can be difficult to sustain the new behavior in the beginning. It may be that we want to be more tolerant, patient or minimize our need to be perfect. This story is about my 14-year-old daughter wanting to act more like an adult.
This past weekend I had some girlfriends over for an afternoon tea. A couple of them have children in elementary school that were also coming over. I had asked my daughter earlier if she wanted to play board games with the kids that came over. She insisted she was going to remain with the women. “I’m a young lady, I want to be with women” was her response.
As the guests arrived my daughter elected herself the coffee and tea hostess which was wonderful since it freed me to visit with my girlfriends. After everyone was served and we were all settling into our conversation, my daughter came into the living room and sat next to me wanting to join in.
Picture 14 women in a living room talking. We had at least 4 different conversations going on and people are jumping around from one conversation to another. My daughter was not quite sure how to join in so she sat quietly next to me.
I could see was fluctuating between bored and frustrated. I leaned over to her and whispered “Do you want to take the kids up to play a board game?” Relief came over her and she immediately grabbed the kids to go up to her room.
As I was reflecting how she is maturing, it struck me that what she struggled with is exactly what happens to us as we are committed to changing a behavior. We know what behavior we want to change. We act ‘as if’ it feels different. My daughter acting as if she were a grown woman was a different feeling for her. She struggled with wanting the new behavior and not quite feeling comfortable with it at the same time.
Important to note is how quickly she bolted back to the behavior of what she is use to when she had a chance. And that is okay too. Change takes practice and change takes time. What is important to acknowledge is that you are on the path of change and not to get too frustrated with yourself when you don’t master your new behavior the first time or you feel a bit uncomfortable.
After all the guests left in the afternoon, I thanked my daughter for being hostess and also for entertaining the children. It is important for her to know that I recognize that she is growing up and I truly appreciate her behavior that afternoon. It is important to celebrate your small victories along the way to reinforce your commitment to change.
As for my daughter, she is indeed growing up to be a lovely young lady.