Parenting issues often seem to crop up in the most unexpected places – or at least that’s my experience so far.
Take week four at nursery. One day Freya came out of her classroom wearing a sticker which said: “Today’s special person”.
Cue celebrations. Lots of “I’m really proud of you”, “You’ve done so well”, “Let’s take a photo and send it to daddy” etc. Because surely this is a good thing?
We’ve had a bit of an issue with stickers.
For the first couple of weeks she was coming out wearing up to three but then they suddenly stopped. I asked her about it one day and she said it was because she was naughty. Obviously if she’s being a tinker I want to know about it but when I asked her teacher she said that wasn’t the case and that she would chat to Freya. I felt really good that I’d noticed a problem and it had been addressed. I’m not sure if the special person sticker was the result of that or not.
Anyway, I was still midway through praising her when Freya looked up and said: “Why aren’t I special every day?”
It completely flummoxed me. I offered possibly my worst explanation yet with a rather flustered: “You’re special to me every day but at school being special means something different.”
Luckily we were caught up in the hustle and bustle of home time and could move on but I carried on thinking about how to explain it properly to her.
Obviously I understand that the sticker is given to reward and motivate good behaviour but when I later tried to tell her that she said she was “good every day “*.
“Well if you keep it up, you might be made special person again one day,” I offered, lamely.
I’m not sure whether it’s the word “special” I am struggling with or the giving of the sticker itself – and the fact that I’m worried it might actually demotivate her – but something is blocking me from making sure she understands properly.
The following day she came out crying: “I wanted to be a special person again today.”
“And that’s good,” I said. “That means you’re working really hard. Only one person each day gets to wear the sticker because that makes them special. It’s shared around your whole class and a different person gets it each day. If you carry on being good, it will be your turn again soon.”
I stressed how proud of her I was in general and that she is always my “special” person but I’ve got no clue if she still thinks she is being punished by not getting the sticker.
Any thoughts? Am I overthinking this?
*Blatantly not true but still.