Shy, a little bit anxious, and afraid to make waves, I was never self-confident as a child. I second-guessed almost every thought that crossed my mind and was paralyzed in the face of decisions, both big and small.
I was afraid to be wrong. I was petrified to make mistakes. I only wanted to please. It took me years to break out of my proverbial shell and realize that my voice mattered. That my decisions were my own to make. That I had something to offer.
Passing the torch
Quiet and thoughtful with chocolate colored eyes full of wonder, my daughter often reminds me of a younger version of me. Lost in thought more often than not, she has one million things to say in the cozy safety of our home, but watches from afar when immersed in a group.
Kind and gentle beyond compare, she would give away every toy if meant putting a smile on the face of a friend. She wants only to live in a world of kindness and compassion, where mean doesn’t exist and people run on love.
But she needs to find her voice.
Practice makes perfect
Teaching assertiveness skills is tricky business in the world of parenting. We teach them to listen. We teach them to follow directions. We teach them about respect.
And then when we throw them a curveball when we insist that they learn to stand up for themselves.
And so we practice. We talk about times when it’s hard to speak up and role-play ways to handle these difficult situations. We discuss goals, dreams, and what makes us happy, and then we sketch out a plan to make those dreams come true.
We always talk about the importance of asking for help.
Some skills come easily. Some take a little bit longer. And some take a lifetime to achieve. There should be no rush in childhood. There should be no need to push beyond what kids are ready for at any given time.
And so we stand together.
Some days I hear her big voice loud and clear, others she wraps her arms around me and whispers for help. “It’s too hard this time, Mommy, I just can’t say it.” Help is exactly what I do.
I didn’t have a voice at her age because I didn’t know that I could have one. My daughter knows that her voice matters, even if she needs a little help talking over the crowd.