Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How To Help Our Li'l Ones With Their Big Worries

Just less than a month ago, my youngest, R, graduated from grade school. How can that be, right? It wasn’t that long ago when I first brought him to his nursery classroom, where his teacher assured me that he’d be OK on her watch.

When it was his first day of first grade, I couldn’t rest easy (even if he was my third kid to be going to grade school.) How could I, knowing that he was now sharing the cafeteria, field, toilet, hallways —with the big boys? Where big (and bad) words (particularly starting with the letter “F”) can be heard and are used so often!!

This is such a lovely reminder of how fast our kids grow. Look at the difference 2 years make! 
May binata na ako! OMG!

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Warning: You can expect a lot of maternal gushing in this post. Please indulge me na. 
So this serves as a warning that if you can't stand extreme parental pride,
then you should skip reading. Teehee! 

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It’s true what they say that our kids become the words we speak to them…

I'm a believer that if we constantly remind our children that they are amazing, 
they will become it.

Our Li'l Man survived grade school!  And he flourished! He made us so proud by graduating with first honors and is also a subject excellence awardee, all while being in the swimming varsity. 

He graduated first honors and is a subject excellence awardee, but there were approximately 6 years of perseverance and anxiety that preceded the day we applauded this achievement. It was years of constantly building him up and tirelessly speaking words of life into him. He was prone to self-doubt and needed more encouragement than my girls.

While we also made it a point to constantly speak encouraging words to our girls, it was our youngest son who needed it the most. My girls were getting academic merits without my active involvement and they were both engaged in extra-curricular activities in and outside of school, with some in leadership position. While those came came naturally to my girls, it was a struggle for my youngest son. 

As he moved up in grade levels, he gradually overcame his playfulness and short attention span. He started getting second honors, but not consistently in the beginning. Then when he was in grade 5, he surprised everyone, including himself, when he started getting first honors.

As a natural consequence of getting academic merit frequently, his teachers and classmates started noticing him, and began choosing him to be the leader for groupwork. I remember the very first time he was made the leader, he told me, "I don't know anything about being a leader, Mom. I've always just been a group member. I don't want to be the leader."

I told him that God surely has big plans for him. I reassured him that if God placed him in that position, then surely God will equip him with the skills to be a leader. I asked him to just put his confidence in God and let God work through him. But of course, I also taught him practical skills like learning how to delegate, setting a deadline, getting ideas from his groupmates. Naturally, being that they are all young boys, I told him that in the event that no one is willing to help, then he should also be prepared to do everything on his own to get the job done. But thankfully, he has always been blessed to have conscientious boys in his group.

His dad reminded him that leaders don't have to always have a strong and outspoken personality. That the best leaders are sometimes those who have the kind of quiet leadership that Moses showed. Principled but not self-righteous, assertive but not confrontational.

 He has a teachable heart - he listens to his teachers and coaches. 
He has a willing spirit - he gives his best effort in everything he does.  

The same thing happened in swimming. When he started swimming lessons at 4 years old he was just going through the motions. At one point, before he started winning in competitions, he even wanted to quit.

There was even a time when some of his teammates would tease him to go back to the novice meet because his times were so slow. He would go to me with sadness in his eyes and tell me he wanted to quit; and I would quietly listen to him, and then tell him to not mind them. I would just remind him to keep on doing his best during training. But deep inside me, my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. Para din akong sinaksak! Fellow moms would know how I feel. It is really painful to see our kids hurt and defeated in spirit.

Read more about how he overcame his competition anxiety here:

Then one day, he became fast and good enough to get in the swimming varsity. He has since then brought home enough swimming medals to fill 3 shoeboxes. And even upto now, there are swimmers in his age group who would go up to him when he is in the ready bench and tell him, "I'm going to beat you!" But at least now, he has learned to deal with them. He just shrugs his shoulders and smiles at them, "You can try!" 

He has come a long way from the unsure little boy he was 6 years ago. He has learned to be self-assured and confident in who he is in God. I share his transformation not to brag because I cannot take any credit for it. It is truly the result of how much R trusted and allowed God to work in his life. It's really the grace of God working in his life.

On my part, I continuously let him know I believe in his abilities and all the possibilities that comes with it. That I am confident in what God is doing in his life and what He has for his future. I know that the way I talk to my children becomes their inner voice, so I was intentional in choosing my words. Although, it is not an easy task, let me tell you! There were many times along the way that I also grew frustrated and how I made known my frustration were less than ideal.

Thankfully, my husband is very good at encouraging him and reassuring him of who he is in Christ. He provided biblical words to help R realize his strengths, to eventually grow into them, and how to use them to glorify God.

It is our work as parents to help our kids be the amazing person that God created them to be. Our words have the power to shape our kids. So here are some of the Bible verses which we use to encourage and to speak life into our kids...

1.  Philippians 4:13 
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

This is our most often used verse to encourage him. I've seen how my son internalized this into his life and how he was able to accomplish so many things he initially thought he couldn't.

2.  Colossians 3:23-24 
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

With this verse, R is encouraged to be a good steward of his time, talent and resources because he knows he is doing it all for God.

3.  2 Timothy1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, 
but of power, love, and self-discipline... 

To remind him to not be fearful because his God is powerful.

4.  Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This is a favorite verse of Christian athletes. The beautiful promises of God's strength during times of difficult sets/intervals gives hope and encouragement to athletes during intense workouts. 

5.  Philippians 4:6-7 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

My son can turn anxious when he is faced with a new experience. When we use this verse, we focus on the second sentence: the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.