I started training for a triathlon 15 years ago, 6 months after the birth of my son. My objective was to lose weight and to also to have an activity where I didn’t have to think too much. I was also in the midst of a divorce.
The running part in triathlon is usually tough as it is the last race you do before the finish line. It’s usually hot and my feet are tired or sometimes in pain. It’s a moment when I ask myself those questions many ask me: Why and what for? I drag my feet, one step at a time, looking at the road, the other runners in front or overtaking me, feeling desperate and discouraged. Shall I just stop now? Why should I continue?
Then I hear ‘Go, Izumi, go! You’re almost there! … just a little bit more …’ This could be someone in the crowd or it may be my inner voice. And it’s just enough. I decide to continue and to finish just this race, just this one more. Don’t think, don’t feel, just do it.
Crossing the finish line is enormous. A mix of satisfaction, of well-being and pride. And I’m already thinking about preparing the next race. Finishing is an accomplishment and I’m happy. I am grateful for the encouragement which gave me the ‘courage’ to continue.
Encouragement is about giving ‘courage’ to the person.
Did you notice that the word ‘encouragement’ has the word ‘courage’? Courage can suggest having the grit, the endurance and the spirit of not giving up in face of adversity.
My most memorable race was during a bike session where I was the slowest cyclist on the road (yup – I don’t do this to win). It was also my first long distance race and I remember being very very nervous. Now, being last is having the privilege of being escorted all the way by a motorbike who happened to be a very kind retired policeman. He continuously sent words of encouragement and although I was somewhat embarrassed, it helped me a great deal. After many races, I remember this race as being a unique moment. I didn’t feel left behind and alone (as you often do when you are last and far after the other bikers!). He gave me the courage to continue.
Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.
Encouragement and Positive Discipline
Dr Rudolf Dreikurs said, ‘A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water’.
In Positive Discipline, we focus a great deal on the topic of encouragement. It has the power to make us feel capable in moments of ‘discouragement’, especially when dealing with misbehaving children. When we make mistakes or when it’s just too hard, it’s a real challenge to continue. Children often feel the same and need encouragement or they give up and/or misbehave (just like adults). Knowing how to encourage yourself and others are key in developing resilience and the grit needed to continue going forward in face of adversity.
Encouragement is NOT rescuing, fixing, over-protecting
As Dr Jane Nelsen, founder of Positive Discipline writes, ‘encouragement is not rescuing, fixing, over-protecting.’ During my triathlon race, if somebody (especially my husband) came to rescue me – unless I asked for it or if I REALLY looked as if I was going to die on the spot – I would have felt humiliated and upset. And most importantly, I would have missed this feeling of great joy of having tried and achieved – and feeling proud of myself. Once I did give up a race. I was totally out of energy probably due to a lack of preparation in my diet before and during the race. Since then, I learned to take extra care in preparing the right energy bars and be more careful in my diet.
‘When parents rescue, fix and overprotect, they rob their children of the opportunity to learn that they can survive disappointment; that they can survive the ups and downs of life and learn many life skills in the process.’ Jane Nelsen.
Positive Discipline tools such as the following are designed to be encouraging to children:
- Family Meetings and Class Meetings where children learn to give and receive compliments and learn to brainstorm solutions to problems.
- Curiosity Questions to invite children how to think instead of what to think—and to give them a sense of choice to use their personal power for social responsibility.
- Letting Go so children have opportunities to learn and grow—mistakes and all.
- Show Faith in children so they can develop faith in themselves.
- Spending Special Time to make sure the message of love gets through.
There are many more—all designed to be empowering instead of discouraging.
Next time you see your child in distress, upset or discouraged, how about some more encouragement instead of rescuing or fixing? It’s not always easy so how about some practice and encouragement shared with other supportive parents?
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope I have inspired you to give me a call to try on a Positive Discipline sample session if this is new to you!