“I think it’s naive to think our kids don’t know the difference?” was my response when asked what I thought of participation trophies.
Kids are incredibly observant. If you don’t think so, recall a time when your parents expressed surprise that YOU mentioned something they said or did when they thought you weren’t paying attention. Then recall that same surprise when hearing things from your kids.
I recall my mom’s surprise, nay disbelief, when I told her I’d been elected cook by the three buddies with whom I shared an apartment. “What did you make?” she asked. When I told her, she asked “How did you fix it?” When I described the same method she’d been using for years she said “I had no idea you were paying attention.”
Not only are kids incredibly observant, they compare themselves to others just as we do. One of the things I find fascinating is that, up until age 6, they appreciate one another’s strengths. These youngsters often defer to the one whose more adept while verbally acknowledging the other kid’s superior ability. And they do so without envy.
It’s typically after age six that we begin to evaluate ourselves in light of others’ abilities and, coming up short, take a hit to our confidence. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know why, but I do know that the why isn’t important.
Retraining our brains
We, and our kids, have the ability to retrain our minds to overcome the natural tendencies that plague us after age 6. You, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and educators, have the power to accelerate that retraining…both by living more confidently (and joyfully), as well as sharing with them new perspectives on the challenges they face.
Here are some simple lessons you can share with the kids in your life:
- No matter how good they get at what they do, there will always be someone who is better at some aspect than they are.
- Their only true competitor is their previous personal best.
- Appreciate those who are better at something than you are for they are potential teachers who can help you improve on your personal best…all they have to do is pay attention.
Do yourself a favor and read these three lessons each morning shortly after you rise. During the course of the day, as you find that you are comparing yourself to others, remind yourself that they are potential teachers…people who can help you become better at what you love. Just before retiring, review your successes during the day, then read these three lessons again. Within a week you’ll find yourself viewing others as you should, as teachers with much to offer.
For our kids
Living these lessons is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids. They emulate the behaviors, especially successful behaviors, of the adults in their lives. Your newfound wisdom enables you to live more joyfully which automatically makes their lives more joyful as well. The more joyful they are, the more likely they’ll spread that joy to their friends.
And by all means, share with them the three lessons above so that they understand why they are living more joyfully and can share these lessons with their friends.
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.