How To Reframe An Adventure Fail
Taking young kids on adventures can be so much fun. Seeing things through their eyes, opening those little eyes to how much fun the world can be, and watching them overcome nervousness are all great reasons why adventuring with your kids is totally worth it.
But sometimes things don't go according to plan. Sometimes the kids just aren't having fun. Sometimes an aspect of the trip is inappropriate for your kids. Sometimes they aren't going to overcome a hard emotion or bad mood.
How we view stress contributes to how stress impacts us. There is some really interesting science behind this. Check out the Ted Talk "How To Make Stress Your Friend" by Kelly McGonigal, or better yet, pick up her book The Upside of Stress. Here are some ways you can reframe an adventure that goes Awry.
How can you make it okay?
Can you do anything to make the disaster better? Sometimes a kid meltdown can be ended by ice cream or a stop for a snuggle. Sometimes you let your timeline go and minimize transitions. When we were in Jasper, the kids were done with being on the road 2 nights before we were supposed to head back. So we left a day early and distracted them by taking a longer way home that involved going through both Lake Louise and the Enchanted Forest.
2. How can you learn from it?
This summer, I learned the length of time my kids can handle away from home is about 2 days. Then they're ready to return to their own beds. I definitely learned this the hard way, with kids crying they wanted to go home after the last ferry sailing. But I know more for future planning. I also learned it in Mexico, when I booked us on an open ocean snorkeling adventure that was very much outside the swimming capabilities of a 3 and 5 year old (even mine, who are great swimmers). They had good lifejackets and were safe, but definitely weren't having fun, so they stuck to the boat!
3. Can you reframe it as a funny story?
In Mexico, Breccan had a classic kid moment where, in a taxi with a grumpy driver on a busy highway during a torrential downpour, he had to pee. He was yelling in the back seat, I was trying to communicate the urgency with the taxi driver, and Nick was trying to lay travel towels down in case B couldn't hold it anymore. When the driver finally pulled over, Breccan wouldn't get out into the pouring rain. Nick had to hold the towel over him like an umbrella, and he still screeched the whole time. In the moment, this was all very stressful. Now? It's a pretty hilarious story.
You are inevitably going to have some adventures that proved to be a bad idea. Part of a growth mindset involves accepting failure as inevitable. Since it is important for healthy development to cultivate a growth mindset, not just for our children, we must not be so afraid of the failure that we don’t embark on the adventure.