Teaching Kids to Believe in Themselves

by Heligirl on January 9, 2012

in Daily Ramblings,Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

Sweetness showed me something very special this week. If I just encourage her, believe in her and give her opportunities when she shows interest, she’ll prove to herself she can do it. Of course, in theory I knew this would be the case, but actually watching it happen was amazing.

I took Sweetness to see Disney on Ice’s Toy Story last November. She’d just dressed up as Jessie for Halloween and was on one huge Jessie kick. What’s more, she was completely enamored with ice skating. She came home that day running around the house with her arms out, doing spins and announcing she was ice skating. She reminded us time and again she wanted to go to ice skating school.

I’ve never been able to get the hang of ice skating and Hubby can barely stay up on skates. “Ice skating school” was probably the way to go as opposed to either of us trying to take her to a rink and teach her. The next day I looked into skating lessons. The first available class was just after New Year’s. I told her ice skating school starts after Christmas.

Sweetness kept that dream in her heart through the Christmas season, every so often asking when ice skating school starts.

This past Saturday was the big day. She hardly slept the night before and was up at 6 a.m. She picked her clothes (“a sweater because it’s cold on the ice”) and was so excited it was hard to get a snack into her before her 9:55 a.m. lesson.

Sweetness has a history of taking her time warming up to something. Failing can sometimes lead to tantrums. Deep down I was a little concerned that the continual falling and hard work to learn to skate might discourage her. I was careful not to show this, but reminded her it was going to take lots of time and practice and if she stuck with it, she’d do it. She was going to fall down a lot in the beginning, as were all the other kids. That was a part of learning.

However, Sesame Street had just had a section on ice skating school and the “monster” that was learning emphasized you just get back up and keep trying. She repeated that to me and I thought perhaps I’ve nothing to worry about at all.

Sweetness was one of three little 4 and 5 year olds with the teacher, and at 4 and three months, she was the youngest and smallest. She struggled to stay upright for the first 10 minutes of the 30-minute lesson, then she started to get the hang of it. She was getting herself up easily and marching across the ice. Even though the older kids made it across faster, her careful attitude kept her movements slow and deliberate. As a result her falls were less dramatic and she caught herself more and more as the lesson went on.

By 25 minutes into the lesson she was marching across the ice, touching knees and toes as the teacher gave them directions, and getting up easily after deliberate falls (the teacher was focusing on how to get up from falls) and the accidental falls.

As for me, I was openly crying with pride. She was expressing such determination to reach this dream. I was so very proud of her.

When she finished she ran up to me and said “I did it!” I hugged and kissed her, reminding her she put that little dream in her heart and she made it happen. Yes indeed, she did it.

She’s been insisting on watching the videos and photos we took throughout the lesson through the scuffed Plexiglas of the rink ever since.

My mom tip today is to be ever vigilant of those little dreams your kids put into their hearts and find a way to help them learn they can do it, be it climbing up and sliding down the big kid slide, picking up a new sport or instrument, doing something for themselves or learning a new skill.

Remember to be careful with praise versus encouragement. When we encourage them to reach for their dreams, support them through failures (rather than helping by doing some of it for them), and celebrating their successes by pointing out they did it (rather than “I’m so proud of you”) we can’t help but give them tremendous belief in themselves.


Susan January 9, 2012 at 8:54 am

Fantastic story!! WTG Sweetness and an even bigger WTG for mom!! I was just thinking back to when I was growing up and people would say things like, “Oh, girls don’t do that.” Or saying the same thing in not so many words, by their actions. Every time my son does something great or has an accomplishment, I try to remember to ask him how he feels about it.
Susan recently posted: What a Difference a Year Makes

Twitter: Heligirl
January 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Thanks. I tell her over and over she can be whatever she decides to be, whenever she decides it. Incidentally, she watched the opening sequence of Top Gun (where they’re on the flight deck at sunrise and planes are taking off and landing) and she announced she wanted to ride in the back of those planes. “Anything you want baby.”
Heligirl recently posted: Teaching Kids to Believe in Themselves

Previous post:

Next post: