Last night as we were driving home from the horse stables, Coco said something to me that I won’t ever forget…
“I love who I am. The way I believe things, and how I love nature. I just really like me.”
Seriously? Best words I’ve ever heard coming out of her mouth. Better than all the “I love you, Mamas” in the whole world.
This little girl is not only at peace with herself, but sharp enough and intuitive enough to recognize it and say it out loud. At the age of 7.
I know that as parents, we try everything in our power to give our kids a strong sense of themselves. We want them to be confident and curious and determined. But no one gives us a no-fail instruction cheat sheet on how to do this.
I know I’ve tried my best…not always done my best…but I’m always trying.
I give my children choices; decisions to make when I believe they are ready for them. What kind of sandwich they’d like in their lunches, which pj’s they’d like from the mall, what colour of bowl they’d like their soup in…small decisions for small people. As they grow, the decisions they make come a little bigger. But by learning to make a choice and live with its consequences, they learn to think things through. They learn they are capable.
My house may seem like it’s always play time, but it’s not a free for all here. My children have chores, responsibilities, limits, and very clear boundaries. They look after their own pets. They make their own beds. They get their breakfast on weekday mornings. The older ones help the littler ones with homework. Some of them even make dinner. They have bedtimes and curfews. They are not burdened or overwhelmed by these things. They are empowered.
Children build confidence by trying things and succeeding. They build empathy by trying things and failing. They learn dependability by doing things for others who cannot do for themselves. They learn care and accountability by having boundaries and testing them.
All of these things build confidence.
But don’t forget about fun. Children need an outlet for creativity. They need opportunity to be themselves. To run. To play. To talk. To dance. To make a mess. To laugh.
And mostly, they need a soft, safe place to fall. They need this as much as they need to breathe.
Hearing Coco tell me she loves who she is, was like hearing a little whisper in my ear saying, “You’re doin’ alright, mama…you’re doin’ alright.”
It felt good.
As I write these words, I am thinking maybe we grown-ups are no different. Maybe we’d all find a little more peace within ourselves if we did even a few of these things. Something to think about.
We are what we are, after all.
Thanks for stopping by,
~Arlee, Small Potatoes