We are strong.
I wonder how I’d have felt if my gym teacher hadn’t said those words: “You can do this. Go on up.”
What if he’d said, “Okay, then you fail gym class.” Or “Let’s let one of the more athletic kids go before you.” Or any other damaging thing that would’ve cemented my “I don’t think so” into my identity.
Alternatively, I wonder what would’ve happened if he’d forced me; told me I was weak if I didn’t do it; if he’d pressured me until he brought me to tears. If I’d have climbed that rope because he made me, would I learn that people can make me do things against my will?
That’s certainly not the message my younger self needed. No child needs to be made to feel powerless. Words matter. A lot. We carry them forward and they tell us what we believe about ourselves. They tell us whether we can do hard things; whether we’re worthy in the most basic of ways.
No child needs to be made to feel powerless. Words matter. A lot.
All these years later, his voice rung in my ears; and more than that, his belief in my abilities echoed in my heart. I wonder how many times in my life it was his words that gently pushed me forward to try some other hard thing. I’m guessing they did more than I realise.
When I shimmied to the top of that rope today, I didn’t wonder how I’d get down. I knew what I’d have to do. But first, I waited up there for a while, looking out at the scenery and thinking, “Doesn’t it feel amazing to climb? To trust myself? To be so strong, if not in body, but in spirit – because someone told me I COULD rather than I COULDN’T?”
The words we use matter to our kids. They stick with them. They stick with us, because someday, these little kids are going to be just like us, wondering if they have the strength to climb.
Originally published here.
Sarah R. Moore is the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. Sarah offers a popular series of mini-courses (including her FREE video, Three Keys to Positive Parenting), webinars, and expert interviews. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. She’s a certified gentle parenting coach and has studied directly with some of the world’s most respected psychologists, neuroscientists, researchers, and advocates for children. She’s releasing her first parenting book next year.