Young parents put great thought into what they give their children. They feed them nutritious foods and make sure their children have the best that they have to give.
But what we don’t always realize is that “feeding” our kids is not only about the food we put into their bodies. We feed their minds and souls, too. So through all of the good that we do, what are the messages that we feed our children? Take these stories for instance:
- A mother stands in the shallow end of the pool with her excited toddler on the steps. As the toddler lunges forward, the mom tries to “instill a bit of fear” in her by saying, “You can’t swim.” What message does that feed her? Instead of “scaring” her into staying safe, teach her that she can do it, but safely. Going little-by-little teaches her to develop her own inner confidence.
- A child joins a soccer team. He’s the youngest player on the team, and although he’s a fairly good player, he doesn’t do very well. Trying to make him feel better, the parent says, “That’s because you were the youngest on the team.” What message does that feed him? Instead of teaching him to rely on excuses, teach him to be proud of what he did accomplish. Although he didn’t do his best on the field today, he joined a new group and made new friends. That difficult moment turns into the deeper feeling of achievement, which breeds confidence.
We all learn by doing and failing—kids and adults alike. We strive to be the best that we can be, but we sometimes fall a bit short, without even realizing it. At times, we instill our own fears in our children in the hopes that they won’t make the same mistakes we made or that they will stay safe so we don’t need to worry. We do it with good intention—trying to heal the hurt so our kids don’t suffer. But let’s face it—those “hurts” are growing pains. Mistakes help us learn. Kids will make mistakes—many of them. That’s how they’ll grow up to be adults with vision and wisdom. So look at yourself as a life guide. And let your kids know that when they fall, you’ll be there to pick them back up.