What Is The Most Important Journey For Your Child?
Let's put this into perspective a little bit.
Let's say you're out with your child going for a walk, and you're walking through the Nature Center, or the woods, or Metro Park, and you start at the beginning. You know that you want to go down to a certain point, or get to a certain point in the park.
After about 20 or 30 minutes you get there.
So what do you want your child to remember?
Do you want your child to remember that you got to the end of your walk, or do you want them to remember the experience of how they got there?
I think you want them to remember each step, each memory, each sound, all the things they saw, and how they felt spending the time with you.
It’s about the process of getting there.
Many times we think about the end goal.
The art project and how it should look at the end.
Practicing piano, and how the piece should sound when you finally learn it and are able to perform it.
How the song sounds that you're learning to sing.
How the dance routine looks when you're learning to put it together.
Those goals are fine. And it gives us something to achieve and strive for.
But the important part is not getting there, it’s how we got there.
And one of our values at Thrive is - experiencing the process.
This is important to us as we like to focus on really noticing and acknowledging each step that your child takes.
Every moment that they learn something new.
When you say to your child, "You worked really hard at putting one finger, after another, after another to get through that passage on the piano," you are now acknowledging the hard work that they put in, and the thought and care it took to getting there.
Now you're giving them the confidence to try again.
If you're only commenting on the end result, the end piece, what's going to happen if the child has a fear that they're not going to get to the end? Or they're not going to finish? Or it's not going to be good enough for everybody to hear or see?
Then they might have a fear of trying something new, or trying again.
This is very common with middle schoolers, especially females.
If they are not noticed and acknowledged enough for the hard work that they’ve put in, it's not uncommon for girls in those middle schools years to stop trying at math, or stop trying at science.
Not because they don't have the ability - they do.
But because they're afraid of not getting the right answer, or finishing the right experiment.
If we comment, and acknowledge, and notice the steps that our children take to get there, now it's going to give them the confidence to keep trying.
In our art room, if the children are all making trees, we have an idea of how a tree should look. Now if we encourage the children step by step, in a non-judgemental way, whether they're making purple trees, or polka dot trees, we’re helping build their confidence about how they experience the process of creating.
"Oh, look you're putting lots of colors together to make that tree. Look at all the shapes that you're putting together. You are really thinking long and hard about how you want your tree to look."
Now it's about the process of creating, and it's not about that end image of how the tree should look.
What is most important for you child is acknowledging the process.
Acknowledge what they're doing to work themselves through something. This is also going to give them the confidence to work on things more so that they're not so frustrated.
If they're putting a puzzle together and they know it's okay to work piece by piece and they've only gotten part of it done, but you are noticing and acknowledging, "Look you put the outside pieces together and it's very hard to find the inside pieces. You're looking for a long time to find the pieces that you think might fit." That's all your child needs to continue trying.
The most important journey that your child can take, is the process.
Each step that they take in getting somewhere. Each little step, each little moment.
Think about all the senses that are happening.
What are they seeing?
What are they hearing?
What are they feeling as they attempt each situation and each step that they're problem solving?
Are they problem solving?
Are they frustrated?
Are they trying to work through something?
By acknowledging and letting them focus on each of those steps, you're giving your children a great, great gift.
When it's all finished, of course you can acknowledge that it's finished.
But also acknowledge the journey that it took to get there. And hopefully you will see your children wanting to try new things more.
They're going to want to create more.
They're going to want to work through problems more.
Let them work through these steps and acknowledge the challenges they might have, or how thoughtful they were, or how creative they were. You are helping to build resilience in them, that they can tackle new things.
And know that it might take a long time and a lot of hard work. But they can get through it.
They can do it.