Please, Tell Me That My Child Is Incredible

IMG_2184Do you have a friend who helps you be a better you? I do. She and I have been friends since she was born (a mere 9 months after me). We finish each other’s sentences, cry over each other’s sorrows and joys, and enjoy dancing at odd and unexpected times. We aren’t afraid to be our truly authentic selves with one another.

We trust each other. We love each other.

She sees me for the best person that I am, trusting in the goodness of my motives, even if the outcome of my behavior leaves room for improvement.

I often wonder what our experiences with young children would be like if

we were able to infuse them with some of the same qualities I find in my closest friendships?

As I read books, blogs, and journals about young children, I notice some common themes. Largely, writers are helping those of us who work with young children to solve problems. What can be done for defiant children? Angry children? What about rivalry? Children who aren’t connecting? Children who won’t listen? Children who fail to meet cognitive or social standards?

There is a very important need for these messages. I need them. They give us the tools to manage challenges more reflectively rather than reactively. But whatever gets our attention grows, and the more we focus on all the bad things our children do, the more we find their faults, and the more we nurture their inabilities rather than their abilities.

IMG_2054As educators and parents, when all we read is trouble, we find trouble. Over and over, we are reminded of just how far our children have to go, how many different ways they can be better. Aside from damaging to our own relationship with children, these messages consistently highlight our own lack (because if we really could do our job better, our kids would be better, right?) and nothing is more disempowering than consistently confirming our deficits.

How about some balance? Along with seeking help for challenges that push us beyond our ability, let’s begin a conversation about the truly amazing and incredible generation we are raising.

In looking for greatness in our children, we are free to find it, and that freedom will help us to be more confident and mindful parents, which will – in turn – help our children to be great! What a wonderful cycle to join!

What if we truly looked for the best in our children? What if we consistently attributed the best possible motivations when our children act strongly? How much would our reality change if we stopped measuring our own caregiving successes by our children’s behavior from one moment to the next?

What if we stood up loudly and embraced our children for who they are now, not who they will become after they learn a few more things, or learn to control their anger better, or sleep through the night.

What if we became their strongest allies, the people who – like my best friend Erin – help them to be their best selves?

What if we didn’t sugar-coat their difficult behaviors with glossy words and raised eyebrows?

What if we genuinely believed that our children are destined for fullness – lives overflowing with rich relationships and experiences?

What if we didn’t wait to charge, full-speed ahead, into their dynamic creativity, their passionate fury, their deep thoughtfulness, or their spectacular sense of wonder?

IMG_2025Let’s decide to greet every child every morning with a smile on eye-level.

Let’s decide to give our children space to be grouchy or silly or foolish.

Let’s help our children know they are loved, that they have adults who believe in their abilities.

Let’s develop a deep and meaningful goodnight ritual that sends our children off with the confidence that they are loved.

Let’s surround ourselves with friends who remind us of the important work we do, affirming our strengths and calling out our own goodness.

Our children live into who we believe them to be. Let’s believe in their unwavering greatness.


How are your children incredible? Share about your great ones in the comments below…

Categories: Community Support, Respect, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “Please, Tell Me That My Child Is Incredible

  1. Helen Layley

    My 5 year old son is NOT the model student in his swimming class, not the most attentive, not the most focussed, etc. etc. but he is 150% enjoying himself, the epitome of enthusiasm, very secure and with the self-esteem to declare exactly what he will or will not try or practise. Whilst I am exhausted by keeping him from disrupting the other kids too much, or traumatising the hesitant ones with his glee, there is a part of me that smiles as I redirect him and gently remind him of ‘the game we have been asked to play right now’.

  2. What a great place for me to start reading! this is EXACTLY my attitude about life .. like attracts like, if we look for the bad, we find the bad, if we look for the good we find more good, if we look for sad, we find sad… I chose to look for the happy in the day, the good in all people, the positive in each situation, & something to be thankful for always. I slip, I am human, but thank you for being a fellow provider that isn’t looking for the negative, the bad & something to fix always.

    Fabulous conference on Saturday in Creston! Thank you again!

  3. This touched me deeply. My “child” is 16 and has her own freshly born little boy. I wish this so deeply for myself and for them. She is phenomenal. A treasure for the world with her genuine heart and strong spirit. She is loving and wise and intelligent. I believe she will only light up the world with her ideas and her talents. She is beyond me. She is still a piece of my heart and soul and I am still filled with wonder and the size of her wings. Thank goodness she loves me.

  4. Thank you Emily! Just want I needed to read today. My eight week old is having a very tough time napping – the last 10 days have been filled with a lot of overtired fussing, but at the same time she has great moments of smiles, giggles and has just discovered putting her hands in her mouth. Love your blog and thanks for sharing. Best.

  5. Emily,

    I love this, and I am so with you. It’s true that parenting can bring challenges, but I firmly believe that how we choose to think and talk about our children and the challenges WE may be facing in parenting and relating to them makes all the difference in how we experience them, and in their experience of us. I read a lot of blog posts and parenting books, and participate in many parenting groups online, and some days, I’m disheartened to find an overall negative tone and focus on what’s wrong with our children and how hard parenting is, and how the children are basically driving their parents nuts- just because they are being children, and doing what children do (and need to do). I always encourage parents to begin by looking at what is positive, and at themselves and their attitude towards their children’s behavior as a first step towards solving any “problem”, and bringing more ease and joy into parenting.

    I was especially thinking about this today, as my little one is going through some developmental struggles and changes, and some of her behavior is perplexing and challenging for me right now. She is needing a lot of support, and her rhythms and routines are off, and there is a fair amount of fussiness going on, especially as she is resisting naps despite being clearly exhausted. But I also am enjoying her immensely, and I am reveling in her expressiveness, the trust she obviously has placed in me to feel free to express herself so clearly, and her unbridled expression of joy and pride evident in her whole body when, for instance, she called to me after a non-nap, and I walked in to find her standing in her crib! Who has time for naps, when they need to practice pulling up to standing?

    Or today, when she spontaneously started blowing kisses, which is something I’ve never shown her how to do! It’s all of those little observations of the positive moments which occur each and every day, and which illuminate how she is growing more and more self confident that I want to remember to focus on. This frame of reference helps me when she wiggles away during diaper changes (with a huge grin), and I’m feeling tired and impatient. I can understand that she’s not trying to make my life difficult, but she is having a difficult time staying still and on her back for even one minute because her whole body is revved up to keep moving and trying to master new developmental milestones right now. Of course, I still ask for her cooperation, and I trust that soon enough, she will be more willing and able to cooperate. We are a team, and I’m delighted to be on this journey with her!

    • Lisa, she is *so* lucky to have you! I am smiling, picturing her standing in her crib! And what a joy to hear you describe her “no-time-for-napping-must-practice-standing” take on things. I wrote this article as much for me as for everyone else. With our move, my children are a little out of their routine, and I am easily sucked in to trying to “fix” everything that’s off. Sending you lots of energy for the business in your life now. ❤

    • Meria

      ….the trust she obviously has placed in me to feel free to express herself so clearly….

      I have to put this on the wall above the crib :)!!!

  6. This is simply great! Big heart!

  7. This was simply great! Big heart!

  8. My 3 year old throws herself into exploring her environment. This last weekend at the beach she spent so much time exploring sand…she laid on it, threw it, buried feet (hers and mine) in it, ran on it, jumped in it, ate it and discovered that she HATED it when she was wet and it was blowing against her legs. I admire how much fun she squeezed out of something that, to me, is just groundcover. She christened the sand “yittle poky things” and was loath to leave. I love watching her fall in love with the world.

  9. Teresa

    Beautiful. Thank you for this.

    My 4 yo son is amazing. He is extremely empathic and sensitive. He nearly cries for the losses of his friends. He can read people like books (if he could read books). He senses the emotional climate of a room immediately and deeply and he does what he needs to do to regulate himself, even if it’s not the most socially acceptable thing. He’s brilliant.

    • Denise

      It’s so wonderful when you read posts like this. Sometimes I feel so out of place because I am so in tune with my 7 yr old daughter. (this article is a great example of why I am choosing to homeschool her this year). She is EXACTLY like your son and I follow her lead in many situations. It’s refreshing to know there are others out there that are on their child’s “team”.🙂

    • Katie

      This is really touching!

    • Teresa, I love reading your thoughts about your son! Thanks for sharing! Best, Emily

  10. yes! Agreed – beautifully written. I know parents often want to fix, fix, fix and I think a lot of this is fear and worry….What a lovely thing if parents could love more, worry less, enjoy more and fix less!

  11. Liz P.

    Today, my three year-old son used the word ‘technique’ in a sentence. His vocabulary constantly amazes me. I love hearing the things he comes up with and keep a list of those extra special words🙂

  12. I find myself often mentally reframing my daughter’s actions by reminding myself that the same things that can be incredibly challenging to parent are actually positive qualities– determination, focus, refusal to give up on what she wants, passion for the things that are important to her, a fierce drive to overcome obstacles that get in her way, and a mind that is absolutely her own.

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