"Mum, why is everything going wrong?"I told myself I'd be the kind of parent who would always encourage questions from my children and who would answer them all as honestly and openly as I could but this one caught me out.
He'd just asked me to turn off the radio which was reporting news of Roy Hodgson's resignation after England's shock defeat to Iceland at the Euros. This, on top of the referendum result and the ensuing chaos, was the last straw.
He was scared, upset and unsure. It felt like each day there was a new, unwelcome surprise and a new area of uncertainty. He didn't understand why it was all happening and he didn't know what was going to happen next.
In some ways I wish I could magic away his concerns but I also know that acknowledging worries and learning how to work with them is such a useful skill. So, instead of dusting off my magic wand, here's what I'll be telling him tonight:
Having a wobble is normalEveryone feels scared, unsure or worried sometimes. When things take us by surprise or when we're not sure what's going to happen next, it can make us feel like everything is out of control and that feels uncomfortable. Make a list what is worrying you, that way we can look at each thing separately.
Yes, you still have to go to schoolToday you went to school, played with your friends and went swimming, just as you did last Tuesday. This morning you ate cereal, just like you did yesterday. This afternoon you'll play Clash Royale just like you do every day after school. And tonight, I'll make tea and you probably won't want to eat it. And I'll make you, just like I do most evenings.
When we have a wobble we can focus on all the stuff that's changing or all the things we're unsure about. Remembering and noticing all the things that are the same helps us get the changes in perspective.
Stop picking the scabsI know that picking the scab on your knee can be interesting and even fun but it also stops your skin from healing properly. When you're upset by something, it can be easy to listen to and watch things that keep you feeling upset. When you switch off those things and do something else, other thoughts and emotions get a chance to come in and give the upset bits a chance to heal.
My social media feeds are generally positive and uplifting. I'm not engaging with the posts and discussions that aren't.
Tidy your roomNo, it's not some kind of trick to get you to do stuff! Having a clear out is about taking control and thinking of the future. You decide what is important and what's not, what stays and what goes. Whatever else is going on "out there", you can still take charge and make a difference, even if it's just in your bedroom.
Maybe he'll have forgotten all about it by the time he comes home. I hope so. But I know it won't be the last time he has a wobble and I know that his question helped me recognise my own wobble for what it was and reminded me that it's normal, that not everything's changed and that it will pass. Oh, and that my bedroom could do with a good sort out!
Stephanie works with intelligent individuals and teams on leadership, personal impact, choice and change. Find out more at www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk