She can do hard things

Last week I shared that several of my kids were working towards a memory challenge as a part of the homeschool community we attend. I also shared that my oldest daughter was having the hardest time – lots of tears and lots of wanting to quit. Her older brothers had all gone through the process before and were so encouraging. Several of you asked about how I pushed her to get past the point of wanting to quit. I thought I would do a little interview with her and let her share her perspective.

On Tuesday she completed the challenge and I’ve never seen her so proud of herself or outright giddy. It is awesome! I am so proud of her.

In regards to pushing her to tackle the challenge – the bottom line is I knew she could do it. I knew deep down she wanted to do it. I also knew it would take a lot of help from me and I was in a position I could offer that help (though many days I wanted to quit too!). It is a fine line in parenting to know when to push and when pushing does more damage than good. I think it boils down to really knowing your kids and being willing (and able) as a parent to do your part to help them with whatever it is they are working towards.

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I asked her a couple of questions about the process. I’ll add my input too.

Why did you want to give up?

Because it was too hard.

How did it feel when you wanted to stop, but I kept pushing you to keep trying?

It was really hard and frustrating.

For about 2 weeks she daily struggled with wanting to quit. Most days she was just feeling overwhelmed. A couple days involved big tears and then coming out of it. I kept a close eye on her and tried to be extra aware of her emotions and what was causing the tears. She was facing mountain that felt impossible to climb, but each day she made significant progress. I tried to constantly and consistently show her how far she had come.

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Was there anything I did or said that was helpful?

Yes. When you told me I would be able to stand on a stage, make a video, get a medal and pick a special place to go celebrate. I wanted to do the fun things and be on the stage!

The girl loves a stage. Her goal was to get to stand on stage at the closing ceremonies for our homeschool campus. My goal was for her to learn and know deep in her bones she could do hard things. I think it is important to recognize we are not all motivated by the same things or even want the same things. Being on a stage would be a punishment for me, but for her it is the stuff dreams are made of. 

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If you could tell other parents anything about helping their kids when they want to quit, what would you tell them?

You can just say, “If you try, you will get to do something fun and afterwards you will be really proud of yourself.”

Fun. She is motivated by fun. Just like her daddy 🙂 Each year I take the kids that do the memory challenge on a fun celebration date – last year it was an hour at SkyZone with me. They are discussing this year’s celebration date.

If a kid is trying something hard and wants to quit – even cries because it is so hard – should the parent let their kid quit?

No, because you know that they can do it. If you think they can do it, they probably can. You have to just keep pushing them. That is what my mom did.

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Did you get upset at me for pushing you?

Yes, because I really wanted to quit. Then after a little while I really wanted to do it, but it was super hard. I asked you to help me and you did.

How did it feel when you finished and you realized you did it?

I was SUPER happy. Once I got home I wasn’t tired for a long time. I stayed up late because I couldn’t go to sleep.

She was literally running circles in our front yard in the dark.

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Do you want to try hard things again?

Yes, because I know I can do hard things. That was just the beginning of hard things. There will be much more harder stuff, but at the end I know I’ll be really proud of myself and I’ll get to do something really, really fun.

I’m a Memory Master. BAM. WHAT!

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I’m thankful for the facts and information she knows, but that is not most important to me. More than I want my kids to be textbook smart, I want them to be life skills smart. I want them to love learning and know how to learn. I want them to face mountains and tackle those mountains even when part of them wants to turn around and run.

She can tell you 100s of grammar, math, science, history, latin, geography and timeline facts – all of which are valuable. However, she can also tell you that she can do hard things and she isn’t so afraid of the tasks that seem impossible anymore. Parenting is hard. Watching your kids struggle is hard. Knowing when to push is hard. BUT goodness is it all worth it. Seeing her smile and knowing her perspective of what she is capable of has forever changed is completely worth all the hard moments and tears.

She can do hard things. And now she knows it. Bam.What!

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