Yesterday I did a little something that was a very big deal for me. It was big because I didn’t think I could do it. I had anxiety, self-doubt and fear about it.
So when I did it, well, I learnt that I could and that is ALWAYS a great lesson and feeling!
But it got me to thinking, how often do we strive to instill resilience in our kids and teach them to build self confidence, but we don’t really do this ourselves?
Let me explain.
Stepping out of my comfort zone
So the ‘thing’ I did, which may not sound like a big deal to others, was a talk. It was to a bunch of about 50 high school students and on a personal topic. It wasn’t so much the speaking in front of the class that gave me the inner shakes (at first), or the personal nature of the topic – I am an open book so that side is fine by me – it was because of my hearing disability.
A disability that made me worry I might look silly if I misheard a question and answered it incorrectly, or didn’t hear it at all, or looked in the wrong direction if I was confused where the sound was coming from. All things that really only make sense to another hearing-impaired person.
But here’s the thing. We are ALL challenged in different ways.
The things that make us say ‘no’
While my disability is my cross to bare, and I try really hard to live a great life with it, I know we all have our ‘thing’.
I’m taking about the inner voice that tells you you can’t do something. That it will be too hard. That it will stress you. That it’s just better to say no, or avoid something when it feels challenging.
Maybe the ‘thing’ for you is social anxiety? So you find it confronting and scary to speak freely at Mother’s Group and make those connections? Connections that other mums seem to form easily.
Or perhaps you lack self confidence to put yourself ‘out there’ at work, in life or in situations where you know you should, because who knows what the gains could be?
Or maybe you shy away from being vulnerable because you are scared to let others in, even though you wonder if your life might be much better if you just did/could?
Or perhaps your fear is failure. But you know you will never really know if you don’t take that chance.
Avoiding avoidance behaviours
Whatever your ‘disability’ is – that thing you struggle with – we all tend to step back from the stuff we find too hard.
We retreat into our comfort zone. That zone where we feel at ease but also uneasy because we know, deep down, that spending all of our time there is the opposite of self-growth.
Our kids also need to see that we, the big strong adult, can do self-growth too.
After all, isn’t this our greatest hope for them? That they will grow up knowing they can overcome or face the hard stuff life throws their way?
Your little one is on a path to learning this now.
When he makes a new friend at kindy, after believing he has no friends? Suddenly morning drop-offs get a little easier because he feels more confident. Or fast forward five years when he’s at school and some kid is mean to him? Instead of letting it eat him up, he brushes himself off, and finds a nice bunch of kids to play with instead.
Modelling brilliant bravery
The best way to teach our kids to grow in every positive way, is to try to keep doing this ourselves.
Just like you hold your little one’s hand when trying to encourage him to talk when he feels shy, we also need to take baby steps to overcome our own fears.
For me, this is not shying away from social situations. Telling people I am hearing impaired and asking them to face me and speak clearly when I am struggling to follow the conversation. Owning my disability and in doing so, taking control of it.
So then when a teacher friend asks me to step outside of my comfort zone, like yesterday, and face my fear, I can do it – and then feel SO great that I did!
So mums and dads, be brave, and teach your kids by example that they CAN do the stuff they feel anxious about. If you start small on the hard things, you might find it gets a little easier over time.
We never stop growing up!