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Be an encourager in a world of imperfect critics.
A little while ago we went to stay with some friends in the country (post Covid restrictions easing). Their property is huge, paddocked and flat. In a setting like this and after a bit of nagging, ok, a LOT of nagging from the kids, we decided they could do some driving. Don’t tell anyone but the triplets aren’t quite driving age yet and neither is the boy.
The aim wasn’t to teach them how to do burnouts and donuts after a B and S ball but to teach them the basics in a safe environment where no one was going to walk in front of the car while looking at their phone.
We set up a driving course for them in the paddock including spacial awarenesses (with sheep and empty water gallon containers), parking, reversing and a chicane.
To my great surprise, and this coming from someone who is a hopeless wreck of a passenger at the best of times- they were ALL really good! There were no ‘lead foots’, no bunny hops (they were in autos, but remember those days?) and no Fast and Furious remakes.
But my proud mum moments didn’t last long unfortunately when the ‘bagging and bragging’ session began !
If the four of them had claws they would have been sliced and diced.
“I was the best.”
“You hit a marker and I didn’t.”
“You would have driven up on to the footpath.”
“You’ll get whiplash from that stop.”
“Baaahahaha, you went so slow.”
And on it went…
I was actually just sad rather than angry. Sad that they were so quick to cut each other’s efforts down and compare their imperfect selves to each other and rate accomplishments accordingly.
I wanted to sit them all down like the netball and soccer coaches do to talk about their performance but, well -sheep dung. Everywhere.
We did have a talk though. About how to encourage each other. About how to build each other up and how to be proactive in encouraging others. How to stand out really!
We live in a suspicious world, quick to judge and too easily cut down.
To be honest, when I stopped and thought about my behaviour in comparison to a bunch of hormonal teenagers, it wasn’t a whole lot better!
Granted, I’m not openly verbal or holier-than-thou in attitude but my thought process could do with some restructuring and adjustment. I’m often pessimistic ( I cop out and say ‘realistic’ instead) and I don’t openly praise or encourage those around me. And they deserve it.
It’s time for me to set a better example for the teenagers.
When you’re tired from home schooling, or time poor from cooking your 564th meal for the month you forget to appreciate the little achievements and encourage those in need- which again- is everyone.
Being critical towards others shows more about your own character than theirs. ‘People in glasshouses’ and all that, who are we to lay blame, judge the often insignificant or criticise the actions of others?
Particularly now, in these crazy Covid times when we are all a little ‘skew whiff’ with our life compass and fearing the unknown future, shouldn’t we encourage our mates? What a great way to show you really care. After all, that’s what encouragement does. It shows you are in the present WITH that person and you hope they do well.
It might be someone who’s learning a new skill or someone who’s succeeded at a task they thought challenging. It could be a friend who was nervous to show their feelings or a classmate who felt left out. A few reassuring words of encouragement could make their day right? And it doesn’t cost a thing.
So I’m going to start TODAY! I’m going to change my mind.
In this whirlwind trend of self improvement I’m going to build someone up. I’m going to make them feel valued and important. I’m going to give them my time and my attention to let them know they are doing well at something- whatever it might be.
Will you join me?