Creating Better Thinkers
Have you ever had times in your life when you've been told you can't do something?
• You're too small
• You're too young
• You're not good enough
It's all these things in our life that hold us back.
When a teacher, a parent, an older brother or older sister, tells you that you can't go on that swing or that slide, when you're the youngest and smallest, can be hard.
Luckily, it was never like that for me.
If we wanted to try something, we could do it, with the proviso that we were watched by somebody else.
Of course, we were first asked the question, do you think you can do it? Do you think you'll be safe? Being scared wasn't part of our family speak. We were never given a thought of fear.
If we thought we could do something, we could do it.
We would climb trees as high as we could.
We would climb on fences, or the roofs of houses and jump off. We never had that feeling that if we did something, we would be hurt.
It was never pumped into us by anyone in our family.
The words spoken were, ‘Always make sure you're safe’. But never, ‘Are you scared?’ or ‘Don't do that, you might hurt yourself’.
We always had a go.
I had an older brother, whom I idolised and who set challenges in front of me every single day. So of course, I was going to have a go at anything and everything he did. If he could do it, then I could do it.
Being around water was quite a big part of our life.
Summers were spent at the yacht club in Perth. Learning to swim was a goal that we set ourselves at a very early age.
Most of my first experiences swimming were underwater. I found it easier to travel a greater distance underwater than to be on top of the water swimming freestyle or breaststroke.
Part of our Christmas holidays was spent learning how to swim at the local pool.
After three years, at the age of 12, I was ready to get my intermediate swimming certificate. I passed this in the first week. Thinking that was easy, I knew I could go even higher.
The following week, I asked if I could have a go at my senior swimming certificate. I was asked the question, ‘Do you think you can do it?’
Even though I was only young and small, I said, “Well, my brother can do it. I can do it too.”
I passed it on the first day, with four days of lessons still to go.
My aim was to get my life-saving certificate. There it was, ‘Oh no, you're far too young. You're too small. You won't be able to save someone who is bigger than you!’
I said, “Well, give me a go!”
Off I went, saw the instructor and convinced him to allow me to try and pass my life-saving certificate. Two days later, as a 12-year-old, I had passed my life-saving certificate.
Of course, I then asked the question, “What's the next certificate?”
Followed by, “I can get it!”
You guessed it, I was told, ‘There's no way you can get the bronze. You're too young. You're too small.’
Defensive teaching or support can stop kids from trying things. I have even witnessed a parent teaching a child about, ‘hot’ things. ‘Be careful that is hot.’ ‘Don’t touch…. it is hot’. ‘Stay away, it is hot’.
In the instance where the child is about to touch the oven, I completely understand, however, just because the child is responsive to the word ‘hot’, it should not be used for things that will not burn them.
Telling the truth, not necessarily your version of the truth can be tricky. We like to use this term:
Tick off where fear is present in you or your children
People other than primary caretakers
Most children grow out of their fears. If your child is holding onto a fear for more than 6 months, we suggest you seek help from a medical health professional who specialises in working with children. The same goes for you.
Knowing that knowledge is power, once you have ticked off the fear list it is a good idea to start researching and learning together.
For example, if you have a fear of dogs, then try doing the following:
Read books and look at pictures of dogs
Teach the child / person about dogs
Experience a dog from a safe distance (visit a puppy)
Introduce a bigger dog once the knowledge has overridden the fear
What do you want to try and/or overcome as a family?
Where will you find the information needed to understand the thing or task you want to overcome?
How do you feel about the thing or task now?
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