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Accommodation & Anxiety

"Making room." That's the true definition of accommodation. We can make room literally by providing a physical room for someone, or figuratively by making room for emotions and compromise on one's demands. Both definitions appear beneficial. After all, who would not want to be comfortable physically and emotionally? Yet too much comfort is deleterious for children. Let me explain.

When we accommodate a child, we need to differentiate between needs and wants. Your children need to get to school so, if they miss the bus (hopefully, not regularly, but that's another post), you'll accommodate them by taking them to school. But they don't need to take a trip to Florida because their friends do so during winter vacation. Making room for children's needs is appropriate; not so for their wants (within reason). It may be difficult for us to see our children be disappointed, but their learning to deal with disappointment is one of the many critical lessons of growing up. Learning that the sun doesn't revolve around the earth and that they, too, are not the center of the universe. People, including parents, may not necessarily accommodate them.

This lesson is even more crucial when dealing with a child who is highly anxious. Our first impulse when we see a child suffer, is to rush in, rescue that child and alleviate the suffering. Doing so, however, only teaches that frustration is truly intolerable, anxiety is life-threatening, and others need to accommodate to them so that they won't suffer. The alternative approach is to strengthen one's children, allow them to go through the experience and, by doing so, gain the resilience they'll need throughout life. It's your choice, parents; disable or enable. Your reactions will make a difference.


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