I was so excited this past Friday. One of my yoga students is a running coach for a team of school age girls. We arranged a special class just for them and I couldn’t wait to teach these girls (ages 8-11) yoga. I also planned for my daughter Anna, who is 7, to come along with me. I thought it would be fun to have her take a class with girls close to her age. At the last minute, Anna asked to bring a friend and we picked her up on the way to the studio.
As we waited for the other girls to arrive, Anna and her friend were very helpful as they set up the mats, blocks and straps. They also had a nice time trying some new yoga poses and just goofing around. After the team of girls arrived, Anna’s behavior quickly went south. She clearly had the “I’m not up for listening to Mom” type of attitude and was often doing things on her mat that were completely different than the rest of the group. She was giggling, over the top silly and pretty disruptive.
My mind went into a crazy tail spin. I found myself wanting to be available and enthusiastic with the girls from the team, but at the same time, angry, and frustrated with Anna. I ended up removing Anna and her friend from class, but often still had to check on them and tell them to keep quiet. No matter how many glaring looks of “you are in trouble and wait until we get home” I shot in Anna’s direction, she wasn’t seeing them. At the same time, the girls from the team were awesome. They were focused, enthusiastic, and willing and I was having a blast teaching them.
We got in the car after class and I think you could probably see the steam coming out of my ears. I talked to Anna and her friend about respect and what kind of situation they put me in. After all, they distracted me from my class in my yoga studio, right? I even told Anna that she had lost her screen time privilege’s for the day, maybe for the full weekend, and maybe even for the whole week! I even told her that I wasn’t going to bring her back into the yoga studio again. And of course, this last part completely broke my heart. I want my daughter to be a big part of my yoga studio and not forbid her from being there.
I caught up with my Mom after and when I told her what happened all she had to say was- Anna was just looking for your attention. Yes, but she shouldn’t be behaving that way in my yoga studio, right? I’m right… right? Over the next few hours, I started to think about what it was like for Anna to be in the studio with all of those girls receiving all of my attention. The next morning, Anna and I had a chat that started with me asking her what it was like for her to be in that yoga class? She said, “well Mommy, when you were coming around showing the poses, you only spent a few minutes with me and more time with the other girls”. She was right. We talked about what could happen next time for her to get the attention from me that she wanted and behave in a way that I could give my attention to her and the full class. She said she wanted to help me teach. I love that idea.
Needing to be right is a relationship crusher. It crushes us off from having a more loving relationship or a relationship at all with family, friends, work colleagues and anyone we want to connect with. When we get hurt, we may automatically feel a need to defend ourselves, to prove our point and to make us the good guy and “them” the bad guy. I was hurt by Anna’s actions during class. As her mother, I believe I need to teach Anna how to behave in a way that’s courteous and respectful. But seeing her point of view and working together to make sure we both understand each other opens our relationship up instead of closing a part of it off. Not only that, by proving her wrong and me right, I was only hurting myself more. There is a cost of needing to be right and it’s not worth it. Anna did ultimately receive a consequence for her behavior that day, but she will certainly be back in the studio and who knows, maybe teaching yoga some day soon.