My six year old rode his bike (still with training wheels) to the library and back on Saturday, for a total of about 2.5 miles. He was so proud and excited to ride in the street like a big kid. He did great until we met the first real hill on the return trip. He immediately asked for help and wanted me to push him up the hill. I couldn't push him, I was pushing his brother in the jogging stroller. But I offered to put my hand on his back, to help him from going backwards. And so he struggled up that little steep hill and over the bridge. All the while I was telling him, 'You can do it! You are doing it! You're almost there!' The smile on his face was heart-growingly awesome.
And then the next hill came. He wanted to give up, started to whine. I told him he was not allowed to stop, that he must pedal that bike up the hill one way or another. Again, I put my hand on his back and encouraged him like before. And then I remembered something I had just read - people often quit something right before they would have finished/succeeded. The hardest part is usually the part right before we make it/finish/win. So I told him that lesson. And kept encouraging him. He didn't give up. He kept going.
And we did the same for the next hill.
As we cruised toward the driveway, I asked him if he was proud of all the hill climbing he did.
He said, "But I only climbed three."
"But you rode over 2 miles AND climbed three big hills."
"Yeah, I did." (BIG SMILE)
"I'm so proud of you for not giving up. Now you know that you can do it and next time it will be easier. Everytime will get easier. You know how mommy likes to run? well, when I started running it was really hard to run for even 1 mile, but eventually I could run 10 miles and still be smiling when I was done. The same will happen for you, for anything you want to do. But you have to keep going. Never give up."
"Ok, Mommy. What are we going to do now?"
I share this story because I believe that instilling determination and confidence in our kids is one of the very most important things we can do for them. They have to believe they can do ANYTHING. My mom taught me that. I believed her, still do.
As we say in our house:
"The person who says I CAN'T is right, but so is the person who says I CAN."