Facilitating “That” Feeling
What’s the best feeling in the whole world? THAT FEELING.
What? Which feeling? In my family, we refer to it as “that feeling” – and define it this way: the one that comes when you witness yourself doing the thing that you weren’t sure you could do. THAT FEELING IS THE BEST.
I consider myself a protector of that feeling. I don’t want anyone to take away that feeling from my kids given how valuable it is and how good it feels. Who do I have to protect my kids from? Well, ironically, mostly from myself. And other well-meaning adults.
We take this feeling away from our kids when we jump in and insert ourselves, our knowledge, our expertise. When we say “Well, I would do it this way” or “I’ll open the Play Doh” or “I’ll make the building more stable.”
So often, when we jump into “help,” all we’re really doing is ensuring that our child will not be able to find “that feeling” – the irreplaceable feeling that starts with self-doubt and ends with self-pride.
There are very few things that are more important than our estimation of our own abilities. Note – this is not the same as our actual abilities. We want out kids to become young adults who think, “I haven’t figured this out… yet… and I’ve accumulated a whole lot of experiences over my life where I’m not sure I can do something and then keep working and sure enough, I end up in a good place.”
How can we encourage this circuit – of grit, independence, and an expectation that continued work will lead to accomplishment?
There’s a bunch of stuff, but let’s start here: build your child’s awareness of “that feeling.” Yes, start referring to this vague feeling in your home, maybe something like this: “You got dressed by yourself. You weren’t sure you could do it… you kept trying… and huh, all by yourself, you figured it out. You got THAT FEELING, isn’t it the best?” If your kids are a bit older, use an example of cooking scrambled eggs by themselves or finishing math homework.
Then, when your child asks for help and you just know he can do the task or part of it on his own, use the words in the post to communicate both your decision to stand back and also your faith in him. See what happens.
Try This At Home
The next time your child struggles with something that you believe she can do, pause. Watch. Witness. Then if she asks you for help, consider saying this back to her to reflect your belief in her: “If I do help you out… you won’t get that feeling … you know, that. ‘I didn’t think I could do it then I kept working and working and then I did’ feeling. And that feeling is just the BEST. I don’t want to take it away.”
Working on building your child’s frustration tolerance is one of the most important things we can do as a parent. My Confidence Workshop helps with just this – after all, confidence comes from the ability to get through hard things. I’ll show you a step-by-step process for how to help your child feel better about herself while building frustration tolerance that will pay off in childhood and adulthood.