By Janet Lund
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Ahh, pumpkin spice is in the air. Can you smell it? Probably pretty easily, right? But can you hear the wheels turning in your child’s head? It’s that time of year when Christmas lists are being dreamed up and written down.
We all love surprising our children with gifts. The twinkle in their eyes as they unwrap a present warms our heart. But whether it is Christmas, a birthday, or any other time of the year, we can take gift-giving too far. Sometimes, parents even struggle with feeling like they owe their kids whatever they want.
Well, you don’t. In fact, giving them whatever they want, all the time, is not a gift at all. When you go down that path, your child starts taking things for granted, expecting to get what they want, when they want it.
All the Noise! Noise! Noise!
It’s a challenge though. We are bombarded with messages every day on the radio, TV, and social media. Advertisements pressure us to go out and get the latest doodad. (Did you know that it’s estimated we’re exposed to more than 4,000 ads…per day?)
Clearly, always giving your kids what they want doesn’t fulfill what they need. Because delayed gratification is an important life skill, kids need to learn to be patient and to persevere. On the other hand, helping your child chase a goal? Now, that is an excellent gift! Why? Because life is full of challenges. Your child needs to develop emotional muscles of determination to push through the hard times and to accomplish great things.
Help Your Child Develop Perseverance
Let’s look at seven ways of doing just that.
- Pay attention as your child shares their dreams and wishes. The wishes we have as children often stick with usthroughout our lives. So, listen closely to discover what your child would love to accomplish.
- Explore ways to help them get started.Help your child get the ball rolling. Here is one example: Your child dreams of playing the guitar on stage. Gift wrapa jar labeled Guitar Fund. Fill it with a small amount of money. This will get them started on their journey.
- Share a story to inspire them.Accomplishing a goal is hard work. Your child may have times when they feel like reaching their dream is impossible. Share an inspiring story with them.
Here is a story I told my daughter:
Once upon a time your dad and I decided to do the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic ride on our tandem bicycle. That meant we would ride 200 miles in 2 days. We gave ourselves 6 months to train. In January we started riding our bikes 3 to 4 days a week. These workouts were hard and not always a lot of fun, but we knew we needed to do them. When the big day came, we got on our tandem and took off. Riding, eating, and taking breaks. We were doing great!
But at the 75-mile mark when we stopped at a park for a rest stop, a spider bit my leg right above my knee. While we rode the final miles of the day, the venom went straight into my knee and made it swell. By the next morning it was clear I couldn’t ride anymore, because my knee was the size of a cantaloupe. I was so disappointed and frustrated.
But by the time we got back home we had already agreed to go for it again next year. We were determined to cross that finish line. So the next January we started training all over again. When the big day came, we rode hard and had fun. On the second day we were sore, but we climbed back on that tandem and rode again. It was a lot of hard work and it took determination to keep going. But when we crossed the finish line, it had been worth it. We were ecstatic!
If I had given up after being bitten by the spider and never tried again, I would never have felt that deep sense of accomplishment when I crossed the finish line. No one could do it for me. I could only do it myself.
Share either your own story of perseverance, borrow mine, or find one that will resonate with your child.
- Remember, you can’t do the work for them.It is difficult to see your child frustrated. You can certainly encourage them, but your child must do the work. That is the only way they can experience the joy and pride of reaching their goal…on their own.
- Celebrate the little victories.Small accomplishments along the way are what make it possible to reach the big goal. Pause and cheer with each victory they experience along the way.
- Empower your child to cheer themselves on.Buy your child a journal to write down their celebrations. Encourage them to write each victory and happy moment on their journey. Every positive thing they write down will make their journal more powerful. It will motivate them to keep moving forward. Even if what they write is, “I am proud of myself for not giving up when I wanted to today!”, pushing through tough days is a great accomplishment. And imagine how helpful it will be to read their own handwriting, when facing a greater challenge a few years later.
- Encourage your child to give thanks to God.God has given your child the gift oflife and the opportunity to chase their dreams. What a blessing! A grateful heart will charge up their determination to continue the journey and cross the finish line. Practice gratitude, so they can see how important it is to you. Then they’ll model that habit.
Good Tidings and Cheer
Perseverance is an excellent gift that you can help your child develop within themselves. Encourage your child to work hard, cheer, and strive to persevere. This trio makes for a whole new kind of gift to give your child.
You go, Mom! You’ve got this.
Janet Lund is a relationship coach who specializes in nurturing the bond between moms and their teen/pre-teen daughters. She leads moms through coaching, speaking, and songwriting. Janet has spoken and performed in Canada, the United States, and Norway. Follow her on facebook.com/momkeepcalm and visit her website at momkeepcalm.com for parenting tools and words of support to be a calm mom.