Why I Don't Tell My Child To Do Her Best

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  Do the best you can! Be the best you can be. We have all heard that and continue to practice the idea of encouragement. But should we? Most of what we know about parenthood is passed down through generations, that age old wisdom we know and l...

 

Do the best you can! Be the best you can be. We have all heard that and continue to practice the idea of encouragement. But should we? Most of what we know about parenthood is passed down through generations, that age old wisdom we know and love. Yet now, with the rise of psychology over the last few decades, most of these lessons and values have unraveled like an old carpet.

Even the encouragement can be damaging, they say, because it does not prepare children for the pitfalls and they often give up when they don't succeed. That is a hard pill to swallow because we all want them to do their best. Trying to be "realistic," and warning them of difficulties involved can be just as damaging because it puts doubts in their fragile little minds and scares them away from trying new things.

Even if we did know what to say, there is also a strong pull to distraction in recent years. With the rise of social media and taking it with us wherever we go, sometimes it takes a Caped Crusader stopping a hurricane with bare hands before people even look up. So are we getting through when we talk to them? "I have a text, excuse me a minute! Oh, sorry, what were you saying?"

Screaming until you pass out will only cause frustration. Words can fall on deaf ears or easily be forgotten. They can also come across as nagging, even if the intentions are good. So the big question is: how do we teach our kids to fight for their dreams and never give up?

The answer is simple. We teach by example.

How many times have we been told to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our kids? Plenty, and following your dreams is no different. Others may disagree and even accuse you of putting your kids last, but the truth is clear: it can be done, even if you are a busy parent. All you need to do is plan your time, and involve your family. My child was the first to hear my completed manuscript before I published it; at the time, we called it "her poem." Now she cuddles up to me at story time so we can read it together as "her book."

From watching you drive to succeed, children learn hope and purpose. From watching you get back up and keep going, and from staying positive while waiting for your ship to come in, they learn perseverance and patience. They see you pick up that emotional sword, conquer your fear of success or failure like a Captain, and they learn that they can win their own battles too. They learn to approach with a "can-do" attitude, and if something doesn't work or if they don't understand it at first, it's a learning process, not a failure. These are all values that can be taught by example.

The other best part is that an empathy can develop between you and your children, because you are both in a situation of growing and learning. A connection like that is awesome.

Children love hero pyjamas, masks, and Halloween costumes. They role play, they admire, even when the hero is struggling and almost fails. Heroes are respected, so why not be one? Why not be the best you can be and make your children admire you and want to be like you? I have lost count of how many cute books (made from papers stapled together) my child has "written and illustrated" for me at school. When I first placed my published book in her hand and she told me she was proud of me, I cried my eyes out.

She is my little hero and my inspiration; I look at her when times are tough and remember that she is counting on me to succeed so that I can give her a better life. Because of her, I keep going; I may pause to rest, but I don't give up. Period.

So if you want to encourage your kids, don't tell them to do their best, just be the role model you want them to follow. Cheers.

 

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