A teachable moment usually occurs during a normal day to day activity. A moral lesson is taught and learned. Teachable moments are organic.
Alana found a doll in a corner of the classroom floor. My daughter’s fondness for the toy pushed her to tell an elaborate story about its ownership. She claimed to be the owner even in the face of her friend and classmate’s tears and pleadings that the doll was hers. When I received the phone call I giggled because Alana’s story was so preposterous. She claimed that neither her mother or grandmother would be able to vouch that the doll was hers because she snuck it out of the house. Ehh? Still learning to lie are we? I was proud that she was not able to lie very well and assured the teacher that I would handle the situation.
It took some very strong words, like trust, no friends, not liked to make her understand that liars usually don’t win at anything. The truth eventually comes out and when it does people feel betrayed and then they don’t trust you anymore. What could be worse than that? Alana apologized to her teacher in a very dramatic manner and proclaimed loudly, “But the doll was just so pretty!” I nearly cried with her. Can you imagine? I was so empathetic with her and yet, she had to repeat this character building feat with her peer. Yikes. Amazingly, Alana got through it and quickly forgot the anxiety. She felt better about what she did during our “check-in” two days later and has not mentioned the incident since. She says she understands the ramifications of being dishonest and will do her best to be honest all the time.
I was proud of both Alana and myself during this situation. I did not fly off the handle and dole out all kinds of depressing punishments. I actually gave Alana the space she needed to be herself, be mistaken and still be loved. It took some thinking on my part to drive the situation in the direction toward the result I felt would be best for all involved. These moments are particulary difficult because many times I feel overwhelmed with anger or fear and my first instinct is to do what I know; yell and scream. Hey, I grew up in a screamers house hold. But when I stop and remind myself what I wanted most as a little girl, it becomes easy to be what I instictively know my daughter needs me to be, understanding.