Are you loving this picture above ? I am ! As a sports lover, of course any kid lifting a trophy above his head in victory will make me smile. Parents everywhere live to see their own kids have moments like the little guy pictured here. The truth is however, these types of experiences don't happen by accident. No....victorious moments like this are prepared for - with a certain mindset. I like to call it " CAN DO " parenting.

  Lest you think this blog post is about sports, let me say upfront that it honestly is not. It is about a mind set that we can instill in our children whether their arena of performance is sports, music, academics, speeches, gardening. wood working, knitting or any number of endeavors. The particular activity or category is unimportant , but the mental approach that you impart and cultivate in your children is what is paramount.

 Too many of us have grown up with well defined fears inside of us. Perhaps we are afraid to learn to swim, or we are afraid to speak publicly, or perhaps our biggest fear is driving long distances to places that we have never been to before. That last fear that I just mentioned is mine. Believe it or not, I am paranoid to drive somewhere where I have never been before. Even in today's GPS world, I literally have a phobia about it. Many of you reading this may be thinking..." Why ? That seems like such a silly fear " and you are correct....it definitely is. Let me tell you why I am literally almost paralyzed with this fear.....my mom was the same way. She was so hesitant to drive anywhere out of our five mile radius within our home that she simply refused to do so. She would not go on the parkway or any highway or interstate whatsoever. She never once said to me " You need to be very careful to never drive long distances or follow maps or drive on highways because it is very dangerous."  Not once did she thoughtfully, deliberately make any statement to me about her fear in this area. She didn't have to - I saw her facial expressions, her tone of voice, her mannerisms over and over again and the truth is....I CAUGHT her fear. My question to anyone who is reading this is - what fears are your kids catching just from observing you ? It is something to think about.

 Fear is not inherited, it is learned. Those little eyes of our kids are watching us closely as they are growing up. If we show a lack of confidence in an area, they will naturally think to themselves that they most likely could not do well in that area as well yet nothing could be further from the truth. Let me give you an example of what I mean. The school in which my children were raised holds a fine arts competition each year. Students compete in the area of speech, singing, playing musical instruments, debate, memory competitions and many other categories. I have heard several parents over the years say things like " Well, I don't think that my Johnny will want to do any public speaking because I am scared to death to speak publicly so they probably come by that naturally."  NO...not so. Parents, why instill your lack of confidence and your fears into your children ? Instead, prod them on to soar to heights and to conquer obstacles that you would never have imagined tackling for yourself when you were growing up. Challenge them to stretch themselves.

Recently I had a conversation with one of our sons who in the midst of talking about another subject, casually mentioned off the cuff that he and his siblings were definitely taught to believe that they could achieve anything. He didn't look at my husband and I when he said that, he was not offering some direct thanks to us or anything like that however this quick remark made in the course of our conversation made me smile inside. It was just a small sense of reward or satisfaction if you will that made me thankful that we stretched and pushed our kids to accomplish things even when they weren't sure that they could or even that they wanted to. I hope that the readers do not view that last sentence as arrogant or as patting myself on the back because trust me....we made many mistakes in other ways and certainly do not claim to be parents of the year. I am just glad however that we parented our kids with a " CAN DO " spirit and mental approach.

The truth is that our children can achieve WAY MORE THAN what we think they can but we often settle for mediocrity without even realizing it. We often just unconsciously slide into a mentality that not only accepts, but promotes an average philosophy.

Ask yourself some questions.....

Do I require my six year old to speak to the cashier politely at the check out counter ?

If my child would like a refill at a restaurant, do we teach them how to personally ask the server for it ? or do we do all of their communicating for them when they could be learning how to engage with others in conversation ?

Once they have learned a task ( such as tying their shoes , or buttoning their shirt , or making a phone call, or whatever it is, do you still do it for them ? You shouldn't. It really is a wise rule to try to not ever do something for a child once they have learned to do it for themselves. ( I realize that there will be exceptions when your child is sick or not feeling well or some other reason ) but as a general rule, this is excellent to practice with your child.

When your child is on a playground, do you challenge them ? If they say that they don't want to climb up the rock wall, do you simply shrug and say " That's okay, you don't have to if you don't want to."  Why would we say that ? Why not encourage them to try ? In fact, insist that they try. Some may think that this is silly and doesn't make a big difference but I disagree. If you raise a child with this " CAN DO" attitude, trust me, all those experiences add up over the years and by the time that child is eighteen , they will have a confident outlook, not a fearful or timid one. Isn't that what we desire for them as their parents ?

I suppose that I am on this particular soap box because I saw a post on FB yesterday of a sixteen year old crying , hyperventilating, sniveling, screaming, shaking and so forth because she had to get pricked to get some blood taken. It was appalling. Okay...so you have a fear of needles....get over it. Stop having a meltdown when you are almost an adult. Then a friend of mine who is in the medical field told me that this type of reaction is a common occurence...really ? So sad ....so utterly sad.

Maybe I am old school, maybe i am out of touch in a really old fashioned way but give me some kid who can fall down at age three with a skinned knee and dust themselves off and keep on playing over that teenage disgrace getting her blood taken any day. Give me a kid who will hurl themselves off of a diving board and start paddling to their swim teacher even when they have some fear in their gut over some timid child who refuses to put their face in the water. Where are the parents who feel the same ? I hope that there are many of you. Man, do I hope for that.

How do you parent? Do you coddle ? Do you hover ? Do you project your fears ? Do you not challenge ?

OR

Do you parent with a " CAN DO " attitude ? 

GIve it some thought - will you ?