Nothing is Happening
In Spanish, there is a saying that goes, “no pasa nada,” which literally means, “nothing is happening, or nothing happened” translated to “don’t worry about it” or let’s pretend what just happened, didn’t. We say this a lot to our kids when they get stuck on something, fall, have a problem. We say this in misunderstandings with others like, hey forget about it, it’s fine. It’s said in an attempt to quelch any anxiety felt by either party. But, I was thinking that it’s a disservice to tell our kids that nothing happened, when in fact always something happens. For example, my nine-year-old daughter needed to speak with her teacher about a problem she had with a test. As we talked, she said, “Mami, no pasa nada.” But I disagreed and we spoke about the following.
Had I said, “no pasa nada”, I would have dismissed her concerns altogether about speaking to her teacher. Had I quickly advised her to just talk to her teacher and do her best at navigating the situation for the first time, I would have minimized her concerns. Instead, I said, yes something does happen. There are consequences to everything that you do and consequences don’t have to be bad. We played out the scenarios of what could happen one way or the other. We talked about that even if we played out the scenarios, the teacher wasn’t here to let us in on her perspective, so until she went to speak with her teacher, would she know how it would turn out.
It’s important to teach kids that there are always consequences to their actions. Not in a punitive way, but in a reality-based way. When we say “no pasa nada” we essentially negate the positive or neutral consequences and focus only on the negatives that happen in life. A change in perspective and focus on the outcome can help the journey to make different choices. This teaches children their self-efficacy or their beliefs in their capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. And.. well, this is what as parents, we want. To raise kids who recognize how important their contribution to the household is, to their class, and their community. That taking steps that seem scary like speaking up to the teacher can actually go in many directions, and that not all consequences are bad.