If your children complain they can’t do anything well, don’t yell at them. (I know you know that.) And don’t tell them they’re wrong. Convince them they’re wrong. When children are filled with doubt and have been told by even one person that they can’t do something or that they’re dumb, it will often take more than our words to comfort them. Plus, that’s not all we should want to do. Let’s show them who they really are.

We can convince children they’re doing things well by showing them the gradual progress they have made. That’s often what it is right? Gradual. We don’t go from one day of not being able to do anything to being able to do everything. Either do they.

Making mistakes is discouraging. Feeling you do everything slower than others is disheartening. Not understanding new ideas quickly can be frustrating. Sometimes our children know what’s hard and they don’t see or believe they’re making fewer mistakes than they used to. We need to intervene and do more than tell them. We need to convince them.

This past week in the gym has been challenging. I’ve felt more tired than normal, partly due to the jetlag recovery necessary from my time in Hungary. Rather than being discouraged herself or allowing me to remain frustrated, my trainer has done several things to show me that I’m making progress even though I feel like I’m not.

Linda hasn’t told me. She has shown me.

Today she added donut weights to small barbells I was using because she knew I could do the same exercise with additional weight. I wasn’t sure at first but using them convinced me that I was making progress.

I did one rotation of exercises with a ball of a certain weight and then the next time I was on that apparatus Linda gave me a different ball that weighed more. She said I could do it. Even if I doubted her in that moment I was convinced a few minutes later as I actually did it.

After stepping onto the elliptical, Linda announced how long she expected me to stay on. It was longer normal. I didn’t doubt or question. I know Linda knows me and has my best interest – progress! – in mind. I trust her.

3-11-15 MedicineBalls

A few days ago I watched Linda put three dreaded medicine balls on the floor in a row. She had me do “slammers” five times with the lightest ball, five times with the medium-weight ball, and five times with the heaviest ball. This was an easy way for me to become convinced that I was capable of doing more weight than I had done before.

Sometimes we have to create experiences so our children see and feel and experience personally the progress they’re making.

Linda and I were using our body-smart abilities in the gym. Can you think of how this principle could be applied to the others smarts and schoolwork?

Five math problems before you ask her to do 10?

A short poem about something your son enjoys before a long poem he may judge as irrelevant?

A short flute solo before you require her to do a long one memorized?

You get the idea. I hope it’s helpful. Remember, convincing children they’re making progress helps them continue on the same path. They’ll more likely pick up the next weight, ball, or book.