This memory popped up on Facebook yesterday and it was such perfect timing. Last year, my punkin was struggling with several things. School was hard and she was comparing herself to others. She felt “not good enough” and was so hard on herself. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, little one.
She said she was awful at math (that may have been 1st grade/beginning of 2nd) and it took her longer than others to get things accomplished. Well, my family is big on affirmations, if you haven’t figured that out already – and my dad (Pops) told Raegan you can’t say “I’m bad at math.” You gotta say “I’m great at math. Math is easy!” and I told her that she has a math brain! She’s been able to do simple math since she was like two years old. Blew me away. So I reminded her of that and told her to say “I have a math brain.” Whenever I had the chance, I reaffirmed her math brain. And because she’s awesome, she started saying her affirmations about math.
She took dance last year also and felt like she was not good enough there either. She liked it and it was fun but she did notice that she struggled with some of the moves. And, friends, we all know comparison is the like the worst possible thing ever and we all do it. So when our kids do it – we gotta teach them young! We have to use it as a learning experience!
We had a lot of talks last year about not comparing ourselves to others because everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses and not one of us is the same. Some are stronger in reading, others in math. Some are great at soccer but maybe struggle with ballet. Everyone has highs and lows and strengths and struggles and it’s ok. It’s perfectly, 100%, totally ok.
It’s ok to need extra time to get your work done, especially when you’re trying your best. It’s ok to need to move and wiggle because your body just isn’t meant to sit still for very long. It’s ok to read a book on your head…. ok, well maybe not in class but to be honest, that is what homework looks like sometimes.
We worked and worked on affirmations, confidence, and self acceptance. At some point during the year, I asked Raegan – what is something you’d like to share with the world? And her response was “Never give up on your dreams. Say I can do this. I won’t give up.” Yes, girl. Yes!
And this year… oh this wonderful, wonderful year. She is flourishing! Notice I said this year. Things didn’t change for her in a day or a week or a month. She had to keep pushing herself, keep saying her I ams, keep giving it her all… but she has grown so much!
This week, she started Competitive Team Gymnastics! It’s a trial basis right now before fully committing to it but I am so proud of her I could burst. She loves it and she’s strong and she is learning new things every practice and she never, ever gives up. Sometimes she falls flat on her face, literally, but she hops right back up and tries again. No more comparison – she’s focused on herself. Oh, baby girl, you are the best.
And math? Oh yeah, she pretty much rocks it. She took a test yesterday that gives you a percentile rank compared to the country and she told me she was doing to do awesome. And she did. 98th%. Whaaaaat! I don’t really care about the number… I mostly care about her doing her best, but what a great boost to her self esteem and she worked for it!! She had the math brain all along… but not until she embraced it and stopped comparing herself and said her I ams was it able to show.
We did get some accommodations for her that help – extra time, questions read to her when needed, testing with a familiar person, encouragement… she struggles with anxiety. (apple – tree) At first, she was worried about being different, but now she accepts that she is awesome just as she is and it’s ok to do things differently.
I guess I just needed to brag on my girl today. I am over the moon proud to be her Mommy. But the bigger message is – Don’t give up. Don’t compare yourself to others, and keep saying your I ams. It’s life changing.