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Friday, July 24, 2015

Encouraging Your Child to Dream- And Helping them Fail a Bit too...

Jules here-

My three dreamers
I love when my kids are happy, confident, and secure in tasks that they endeavor to do- from coloring to sports I love when my kid are proud of their efforts. However, after a certain age, I do believe there should be some realism instilled within their self-esteem. After watching American Idol a few years ago, I vowed never to instill false-confidence in my children so they wouldn't end up singing like this...
 

As Grace is getting older, my expectations of her talents have elevated too- Do I champion ever coloring picture or drawing she shows me? No, no I don't. I am straightforward and honest with her with responses such as, "Well, I like the colors you chose, but it looks like you weren't as careful staying within the lines that time." OR, "I've seen you draw butterflies better on your other pictures, but I do enjoy that one rose in particular." I believe that this technique offers three things: 

1. It lets her know that I know her abilities and talents-as well as her limitations.  I know when she puts her true effort in. 

2. When I do compliment a truly "good" work-she knows it is well-deserved, not a simple placation. She learns to trust me and my opinion. 

3. She learns that she isn't perfect. She learns that she's not the best at everything- but she also learns in a safe, home environment.  Hopefully this gives her the confidence to face disappointment and failure in the "real world" too.
Back when I had lower standards for her :)
With Felicity, I am just starting this more honest approach- she needed a boost of confidence being the middle child under the shadow of a crafty older sister.  She is a child who is hesitant to attempt something unless she knows she will be successful, and yet she usually surpasses Grace with gross motor challenges.  From swinging to monkey bars, she often accomplishes milestones before her older sister- yet she seems to need more encouragement.  I try to not completely discourage them with my honesty, but I want them to know they cannot succeed at everything or be the best at everything.


I vote for professional cartoon for her future career.
Parents walk the tightrope between having your child be a secure, confident kid versus an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk that so often decorates my Facebook news feed. The parents of the 1990s kids were so worried about bruising an ego, having a child feel inferior, or ever discouraging a "dream" that I believe that birthed the "selfie" generation....  I cringe when I see a person post pictures of themselves flexing, modeling, and posing in front of a mirror with a transparent self-deprecating message beneath-- obviously fishing for compliments.

Adorable memes shared here @AnimalBehaviorC 

 I want my children to live in a "real world"- I want to encourage them to follow their dreams- BUT, if James is 18 years old and wants to pursue his golfing career before going to college, um... no.  Will I get James town golf lessons next year? Yes! Will I put aside some money for the occasional mini-golf? Of course! But I also believe in showing your child how rare it is to achieve these fantasy aspirations. Professional sports player, singer, actor, etc.... the chances of success are so minimal in those careers that you truly need a good back up plan.
My little pro
Does your child love professional sports and want to be an NBA player, yet his height will top out at maybe 5'10"?-- Get him into a sports management program or communications degree.  Encourage a baseball "star" to volunteer or work with a minor league baseball team in the summer. Maybe he/she will find a passion with marketing for the team or sports writing. Or maybe sports will just be a hobby.

I've known parents who bend over backwards supporting their children's unrealistic dreams- and then when the child doesn't succeed he/she faces the depressing realization that they have no viable back-up plan.  Plus, every day work pales in comparison to their fantasy lifestyle that they had dreamed of... 
My ballerinas...they are amazing... NOT-- but they're cute :)
So am I mean, heartless, or cruel as a parent to tell my child that her song really wasn't that entertaining and that she stole the tune from "Pop goes the Weasel?"  Maybe. But I would rather have my child realize her limitations and strive to improve upon herself rather than the world to teach her that lesson later.

Easy Rule #3478- Keep balancing between encouraging your child to dream and allowing them to face reality, they'll thank you later. Or they'll go to therapy. One or the other.

Ha! So true.

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