Lessons on growing up

My 1-year-old son is doggedly trying to learn to walk. It’s his singular passion at the moment. He holds on to my hands and we traipse all around the house. If I sit him in my lap to read a book, he immediately searches for my hands, grabs on and we set off. He also loves practicing taking two or three steps between his father and I. We spend hours doing this. He’s simply not willing to sit still. He can’t really crawl, he does a sort of bum shuffle, but gets frustrated. I can’t say that I blame him, it’s a slow way to move about. So he screeches and hollers in frustration unless we are holding hands, arms up, toddling about the house. A certain amount of this is entertaining, but after several weeks of it, I’ll admit I’m ready to move on.

However, his enthusiasm and persistence for this goal inspire me. Despite being completely reliant on our cooperation and his regular tumbles and falls he just keeps on trying. He’s completely focused on his goal and will persevere until he’s successful. What a spectacular life lesson. I am inspired by him.

At what point in our lives do we lose this single-minded determination? Already we struggle to inspire our oldest with the same enthusiasm for his own pursuits. He’s still very young (3 1/2), and yet we often hear him say “I’m too small, I can’t do it.” I’m sure he was just as determined as a baby to accomplish his own developmental milestones. When did this change? When did he learn to be more hesitant, to question his own abilities?

I want my children to grow up believing that it’s important to try. I don’t parent in such a way so as to lead them to believe they are the best at everything. It isn’t true and not what’s important. But I do want them to feel confident enough to try, to work hard, to believe that their goals are worth pursuing, even when there are obstacles to overcome.

How do you fuel your child’s enthusiasm? Do you have any tips for teaching the value of trying?

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8 thoughts on “Lessons on growing up

  1. Allison says:

    I agree that kids need to learn to try. When my 2 year is ready to give up on something (fitting the last puzzle piece, putting the cap back on a marker) I just say, try again. And more often than not, he succeeds. Now, when he asks me to do something, I just look at him and he goes "Try again". I love to see him succeed.

  2. Sarah says:

    My son is still in the 'execution' phase, but sometimes he does get frustrated and I just say "it's ok – you can do it!" Sometimes, all he needs is some encouragement and a little help.I do struggle with the "you're too little/young/small" thing, though. Some things he is just too young for and it's hard to tell him that without deflating or devaluing him.

  3. amotherworld says:

    I tell my boys "keep trying, don't give up"…. I even go as far as to sing the song from Yo Gabba Gabba to encourage them.I also remind them that the more you try and practice, the better you will become.If they seriously can't do something because it's they're still too young, I just tell them that when they are a bit older, they will be able to do it too.

  4. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    You ask such important questions here. I think all the time about how I respond and react to my boys: am I encouraging? overly effusive? Does my own lack of energy at times discourage their enthusiasm? Personally, I think the most important thing I can do is to step out of their way as often as possible. Follow their lead instead of always trying to be in control.Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  5. Charlotte says:

    A couple of my kids could not wait till they were capable to start walking and I spent hours with a bent back walking them around. It was tiring, but inspiring!I think one of the important things to fuel kids enthusiasm is to let them be themselves. If you are pushing them to play sports when they'd rather be drawing, it isn't going to work too well. Unfortunately I see a lot of parents pushing their kids counter to the child's natural inclinations. (Of course somethings are important to expect, but even school work and exercise can be done in ways that work for the child)

  6. Heather says:

    Great questions and very thought provoking Christine. Encouraging children and letting them try new things can be scary but worth it in the long run.

  7. coffeewithjulie says:

    Oh, I wish I knew the answers! These are questions I've been wondering about myself.My daughter is 7 and she was so eager and determined to walk that we never found it required to provide encouragement. My son, on the other hand, who is now 18-months really couldn't have been bothered. He scooted around on his bum for ages. Both we (as parents) and the caregiver we work with let him take his time but were consciously not picking him up and carrying him around so that he would eventually decide that he wanted to get something quicker on his own. It is such a fine balance between "pushing" and "encouraging" it seems and I just hope I can get it right. Or at least not fail entirely! šŸ™‚

  8. Christine says:

    Thanks for all the comments! You've reminded me to think carefully about how I motivate him. Julie you've made me realize that perhaps what I think is "encouraging" is probably more like pushing to such a little man. I'm going to try to be more mindful and follow his lead.

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