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I am honored to have another Awesomely Awake mama — Danielle Greco of 52 New Experiences — here today. Danielle’s trying new experiences with her kids each week this year. Her project is very inspiring for people with young children. If you haven’t met her, be sure to check out her great blog.
Hi! I’m Danielle. I am excited to be featured here at Awesomely Awake, one of my favorite blogs. You can usually find me at 52 Brand New, where I chronicle our family’s adventures as we try a new experience every week of the year. We hope to inspire others to do the same.
I love trying new experiences with my children, and they usually enjoy it, too. My kids have been brave enough to touch exotic insects and snakes, eat ethnic foods, and hike farther than most children their age. But occasionally, they balk at trying something new. They plant their feet firmly in the ground, refusing to budge, and swear they will not do something that I really hoped they would try. What is an Awake parent to do?
I’ve realized that I walk a fine line between being pushy and being encouraging when I try to convince my children to try something new. After a few years of trial and lots of errors, I have come to understand that my children respond well to a gentle nudge, not a firm push.
What is the difference between a gentle nudge and a firm push? A gentle nudge honors the child for who he is. My son is very cautious. He loves to run and play sports, but he does not like to jump from anything high. He has been this way since he was a toddler. I respect his personality and his wishes, so I need to be careful when encouraging him to jump off the playground structures at our local park. I literally hold his hands and let him know that I won’t let him go. I recognize his fear and help him take just a tiny step outside of his comfort zone.
A gentle nudge has a different intent than a firm push. A parent who wants to develop their child’s confidence gives a gentle nudge whereas a parent who wants their child to be the “best” at something gives a firm push. My daughter absolutely loves to dance. She takes a Kinderdance class every Friday where she is learning the basics of tap and ballet. She usually wakes up on Saturday morning asking how long until dance class again. Her first recital was last week, and she was very nervous. Leah is shy, and the thought of standing on stage terrified her. I recognized her fear. I let her know I understood how scary it is to be on stage, but told her we would take it in “baby steps.” First, we sat in the audience at the dress rehearsal, then we went onstage together and I stayed in the wings. Last, she went on by herself but stood next to her teacher. When her recital came, she went onstage with a smile. I didn’t give her a firm push because I truly did not care whether she was the best dancer in the group or the worst. I just wanted her to have the confidence to do something she loves in front of other people.
A gentle nudge is given for our child. A firm push is given for ourselves. I have definitely confused the two before. In March, we went to an indoor water resort. My children were super excited to go, but when we got there, they refused to go down any of the slides. I was surprised and a bit annoyed. What was the point of spending so much money for them to play in the baby pool all day? I somehow overlooked the fact that they were enjoying themselves splashing in the baby pool and practically dragged them up the steps to one of the slides. I knew they would have fun on the waterslides if they gave it a chance. As we approached the top, Luke started screaming while Leah started crying. The lifeguard told me to hurry up and make a decision because other people were waiting. I must have looked like the world’s worst mother as I walked back down the steps with two hysterical children.
I didn’t honor my children’s personalities and wishes. I wasn’t trying to instill confidence. I just wanted my money’s worth of the water park. Bad mommy moment. Next time I will do things differently. I will honor Luke’s cautious side by gently nudging him toward the tiny slides in the kiddie section. I will build Leah’s confidence by praising her ability to put her head under the water. Most of all, I will sit on the side and lovingly observe my children finding such joy in a baby pool.
If you enjoyed this article, you will also like these other posts by Danielle: