My Bravery Series post is a reflection related to my post A Letter To My Sweet Daughter, how watching my daughter make a decision based on her inner feelings of safety and how she took the risk to stand up for herself made me think about my life and why I make the choices I make.
I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought after comments about how to know when to push and when to not with ourselves and our children. I don’t know the answer to that. I think it depends on our children and ourselves. I think children do push themselves often in all areas of their lives. They are learning so much everyday.
My daughter will try things that surprise me! Brave things that I don’t think she can or should do and she keeps trying until she is successful. I think it is because she is ready and choosing this herself. If I push her she shuts down. I see it. I can ask her to try and if she says she is afraid I will not push. No one likes to be afraid and I know for a fact that different situations can make people feel that fear.
When I was younger and afraid of something, being forced into it because I “shouldn’t be afraid”, didn’t make me less afraid. Honestly it just made me feel unheard. I think that as adults we sometimes forget that all children will like to do different things. Some will be more independent wanting to go to sleepover camps or be on the stage playing an instrument or sport. Some children will want to be in the spotlight because they like it and others will be terrified.
I know I stopped piano lessons not because I didn’t want to learn piano. I loved piano…I just was terrified of the recitals. Silly, I know, but I never did well under pressure and I didn’t enjoy sitting there my heart pounding so loud I couldn’t hear the notes I was playing, the beat of my heart throwing off the rhythm of the notes. I would have liked to continue piano, minus the recitals…
I think for me it’s the end goal that will help me decide when to push and when to not. As for swimming, I want my daughter to have water survival skills. Be able to swim enough to hold her own buying time until I or anyone can get to her. The floor to ceiling water slide was not an issue for me. She is not one for adrenaline as many aren’t. She may grow into liking that type of activity and she may not. Either way is fine! If my daughter wants to learn an instrument but not perform, we will work on her fear gently and slowly and if it means private lessons at home minus the recital then that’s what we’ll do. I want her to know an instrument, to love music, her way.
There will be times she will need to overcome some fear. I still had to give reports in front of my class, I played sports on teams and as an individual, I was able to grow and become more comfortable. But it took me a while. I wasn’t 5 years old. Even 7. It took me until I was about 10 to feel confident enough. I think in todays age we are expecting more and more at earlier ages and there is so much comparing of children by our peers we feel pressured to have our children doing what others are.
I just want others to remember that all children are individuals and they all have their gifts and strengths. I hope that by validating my daughters fear and honoring her when she says No, I will be building up her confidence to continue to stick to her guns and say No when it’s something big. I fear that if I always push her she will feel unheard and eventually stop saying No, going against how she feels inside. I want her to be strong and able when it really matters to know that she should be heard. Pressures she will face later in life will require her to make some tough choices. I hope with discussion, education and her self validation when she says No, she means it and that is it.