Enthusiam & Confidence…..

I must say that my enthusiasm for “life” was a little low this morning after a long night of bed hopping, a grumpy lil man & a pre-teen who knows everything except how to be confident in herself.  It isn’t easy dealing with our different personalities, needs and motivating everyone to get started in their day and BE HAPPY about it! 

I sometimes do the “let’s think of one happy thing about today” routine but that has gotten a little old with Aby as she is constantly moaning and groaning that she doesn’t want to think about “happy” things.  Of course, our mornings aren’t as happy as I would like because we aren’t the kind of household that gets to wake up on our own and leisurely start our day, plus Aby isn’t a morning person so her mornings are decidedly less happy than those that Michael and I experience.

I want/need to be better able to motivate Aby (10 years old), help her be enthusiastic about life, and foster a sense of confidence that she can carry thru her daily life.  We are struggling with her confidence issue A LOT, negative thoughts and self demoralizing comments.  I hope assume it is more about her age than anything else but she also has a very soft, non-competitive personality which doesn’t foster confidence.  Hubby and I are on a mission to “help” her be more confident.  We know that success comes from within and confidence is the key.

Do you think I should replace my “let’s think one happy thought about today” to “tell me one positive thing about yourself?”  She is very sensitive and I try to respect that but we need to toughen her up a bit.  I know that I too was sensitive at one time but over the last decade few years, I know that my sensitivity has diminished.  I am more of a “suck it up” type motivator rather than a hand holder.  I know that I need to be “sensitive” towards Aby and I know that “suck it up”, “get yourself together” and “make it happen” are not appropriate here but I’m not really sure what is for this particular age group. Of course, we give loads of hugs, love and encouragement but I am just not sure that is enough, it certainly doesn’t appear to be or we wouldn’t be worrying about her self-esteem, right?  Of course, she LOOKS just fine.  🙂  It’s the words we hear that concern us.

How do you motivate others?  Do you have a preteen that is also struggling with confidence?  Any advice for Hubby and I on how to be sensitive and help Aby be enthusiastic and confident about herself and life in general?  Help!

Distressed Mom on the Run,                                                                                       Amanda – TooTallFritz

23 thoughts on “Enthusiam & Confidence…..

  1. When mine were in that age group, I bought a plate that was DRASTICALLY different then every other plate I own. Each night at dinner someone got that plat and everyone at the table said something positive about the person (mom and dad got the plate once a week too) You could say something they did that you thought was great. ie Good test scores, great sportsmanship, strong performance(sports, music, acedemics etc…), or something they did for you that you appreciated (picked up after themselves, helped carry in groceries without anyone asking, did a load of laundry) or something complimentary ie good hair day, great outfit. We still break out the plate once in a while to remember to appreciate those we love and help them see themselves through other eyes. I also had a question on “crabby days” “Do you want to make everyone around you miserable or do you want people to enjoy your company?” Live is a choice and you get to live with the consequences!

    • Awesome ideas! I am constantly complimenting her and thanking her for something. I feel like all the good I do at home, gets undone over the course of a school day. Then we also have the issue with Michael being younger, needing more attention on some fronts and the “you love him more” issue. Plus she is at the age where you compliment her one minute and then are jumping her butt the next for something wrong. I think I need to be softer but then nobody listens when I am “soft”. 😦

  2. I think I was a lot like Aby at that age. Outwardly, I looked fine, but I had a lot of angst for a few years. I kept it to myself and didn’t share it with my parents (my mom is also of the “suck it up” variety, so at the time I didn’t think she would understand at all). I think the best things my parents could (and did) do was let me know that they love me unconditionally. Also having outlets (sports, music, etc) helped, so I appreciate that my parents always encouraged/supported that (and shelled out the $$ for it too). Hopefully, like me, it is just a phase and she’ll grow out of it eventually. It’s probably also good for her to have her privacy – I know I would spend lots of time writing in my diary/journals (I think I still have them packed away somewhere, and in hindsight what I wrote was so embarrassing – definitely not something I would ever want anyone else to see). But if you think she could use an additional outlet or support, I’m a huge believer in therapy. Having an impartial outside “stranger” to talk to (and give you undivided attention) can be so therapeutic. I don’t see a therapist right now, but I have (as an adult), and it helped a lot. Good luck!

    • I think I will encourage the diary writing; thanks! And we aren’t really sure if this is just a “natural” process that will pass or if it is therapy worthy. Kinda seems natural but also on the extreme side. She is also very dramatic, so I associate much of it with her drama factor. Like if I put my hand on her back to move her to left or right to get something, she will throw herself on the floor like I pushed her. Then proceed to tell me that I pushed her. My natural reaction is…..WTF?!?!…..but that isn’t an acceptable parent reaction.

      • It’s probably natural, but I would just say trust your gut. You know her best (whether she thinks you do or not!) Also, knowing myself at that age, she’s probably starting to get to that “my mom doesn’t get it” age. It took me awhile, but eventually I grew out of it and was able to see my mom as a friend again.

  3. I, too, am the tough motivator mom. Fortunately for me, Megan is receptive to that. I always tell her that she is tough. “suck it up, Meg, I know you can do this…you’re tough” or (I’m gonna sound like a bitch but this is how I do it) “I’m running tonight, you are welcome to join, but I don’t wanna hear any complaining! Our runs are ‘our fun time’ together” and we end up singing or talking/joking during our run. She just knows, I am not a nurturing mom…I’m not gonna kiss her boo boo and give her cookies, I will bandage her up and put her back on the bike, trail, horse, etc. yanno why? cause she’s tough, I have confidence in her, I have seen her succeed, I have seen her drive, I know she can do it-even if she doesn’t know it yet.

  4. I still act the way Aby does. I know when i was a tween i always felt really good when i felt responsible. My mom would give me tasks to be responsible for that i would totally question my capability to do, but i always felt really good about it. (i.e. making my own cookies for the school bake sale, painting my bedroom myself, etc…) Or maybe my mom was being lazy….i guess we will never know. Hopefully it’s just a phase 🙂

  5. I have a 10yo son and a 12you son. With boys, we are all about the suck it up mentality but I know it is a bit different for girls. I was the same way when I was her age. If you can find an activity she enjoys and feels good doing, that would really help to boost her confidence. When I played soccer it helped me feel good about myself and my abilities.

    • She does run but she is a 5th grader competing against much older kids. She is doing GREAT but constantly feeling inferior due to their success & experience. Her time will come. She is actually better at the longer distances too, and track only has the 1600 for middle school. So it’s a fast race for her inexperience. Local 5Ks are much better for her confidence and we will return to those as soon as track is over.

  6. I worry about my own Abby (10). I thought she lacked confidence too. That was until I saw her on tv. She was interviewed while particapating in an event at a local resort. She spoke years beyond her age. It was amazing. I felt as though I was listening to her for the first time.
    Now don’t get me wrong, she does have moments of doubts about keeping/having friends, being popular or pretty but how she behaved when I wasn’t around was insightfull to see. Her teachers had told me of her behavior at meetings when I would question her maturity. Because around me she does often still behave in a less confident manner. Sometimes I wonder why we worry so much.
    Right now I am working on making sure she understands that we have to be completely honest with eachother. I want her to know solidly that she can tell me anything because she is quickly headed toward a time when sharing with mom will be the last thing she might want to do BUT if she knows (from example) that honesty is accepted then she might be able to handle situation better knowing that no matter where she finds herself, she can turn to me and I will be there for her without judgement. I think in that way she will be confident because she will know that she is trusted, valued and loved.
    After school each day I like to ask my Abby, what was the most amazing thing about your day so far? Many days I get a blah blah answer but throughout the evening quite often she remembers something and shares it with me. And I, listen in rapture knowing that those little values are sinking in for her. ….even when she thinks and acts like she knows it all. 😉

    • Awesome, advice! I know that she is much better “out of the house” than in. She is a great student & “represents” well, it’s just the little things she says and does that worry us. We want her to be confident and strong as we know that things will get harder, peer pressure is powerful and we want her to be confident enough to make good choices. So scary being a parent! I also believe that leading by example is one of the most important things. So I try to always point out the positive in a situation/person when I can. Or if she is negative, I try to redirect toward a more positive outlook.

  7. I have a extremely sensitive, non-competitive, but very happy-go-lucky, chilled to the point of horizontal, 11 year old daughter. We give her lots of space and reassurance when she needs it. We actually gave her so much space that she went away and developed an anti bullying for girls who like monster high dolls website, but thats a different story. For a long time we had an age-appropriate parent-time-out heart on the fridge door. Depending on their age, (11-gets-11mins etc), if they needed our undivided attention they will pull the heart off the fridge door and wave it out us! The rule was we, the parent, had to immediately stop what we were doing and pay attention to the child – whether it be a tickle, cuddle, chat, question etc. We did have to set some boundaries like the heart was very important and could not be abused for such questions like, can I have a new bike, but only emotional or problem times. They also couldnt pull it on me in the middle of cooking so I didnt burn anything (not the worlds best cook!).

    It worked great for a long time, and even though its still on the fridge its pretty well hidden. I know its still there but the girls 9,11 dont feel the need to pull it on me, and now they have learnt how to be patient and wait for their turn to discuss something important with me.

    Hope this helps. x

  8. Advice you want? Ahh….not that I may have something for all three of you.

    First, it amazes me that a young girl would struggle so hard with confidence in an era where so much opportunity exists for women today! Go back to the late 60’s and early 70’s and the opportunities and equality for women was far from what it is today. Aby runs on track team in school and as such, wasn’t all that long ago girls never had that opportunity.

    So my first suggestion is to give her an assignment to research the history of women earning the right to run distance that leads up to the women’s marathon in 82 Olympics and Nixon signing Title IX in June 1972.

    Have her read Katherine Switzer’s book “Marathon Woman.” I would presume she is old enough to read and understand it. It’s a great portrayal of the history involved with women attaining equal rights in running, if not all sports venues, not to mention equal pay and such. If she wants to ask or inquire of Katherine Switzer bout the subject of self-confidence, then let me know and I will forward her email contact, but first I think she needs to know the story, and you and hubby discuss it with here, then if inspiration from K V Switzer is needed, we can call upon her and see what she can offer.

    Second suggestion you already have the source in hand – “Mile Markers” by Kristion Armstrong. Go to Chapter 12 and have her read all those mini vignettes that comprise the chapter….then have a session where ya all discuss it. Also, have here read the one short essay in Chapter 9, called “Outlines.” Not sure if Abby’s lack of confidence is due to “image” but that doesn’t matter cause pay attention to the “lessons” or “teaching excercises” that Armstrong uses with the girls she group she is mentoring. Although she is keying in on “self-image” that teaching technique she uses is one that can build confidence. And you and hubby can be the “extra” for building self-confidence that also comes from the “group” structure Armstrong uses to nurture and re-inforce self-confidence.

    Heck…Abby should read the entire 26.2 miles book! Armstrong is a grown woman that still struggles with her own self-confidence at times, but when you read deep and see how she comes to resolution or understanding, I see a strong woman with a lot of confidence.

    Hope this helps give you some ideas and look forward to seeing if it helps Abby’s confidence.

  9. I feel Abby’s pain! I think all women have gone through the phase and still have moments like Abby is facing. I think the best thing you can do is live by example. Even though my Mom had a lot of “I’m not good enough” moments that I remember, the one thing she instilled in me was her positive attitude! We went through a lot as a family, and even though my Mom had poor health her whole life she always was positive-and that is something that has stuck with me!!!

    Sidenote…I was laid off from my first job out of college and friend Denise was unemployed at the same time. It was summer, so we would sit by her parents pool and make cocktails. When we would get sad about our unemployment status, we would force each other to say one thing we liked about ourselves. It was super dorky and we did it in a joking manner, but it worked! Not sure if it was because we would laugh at ourselves or because of the attitude, but it worked! 🙂

  10. When my kids were around that age, we started “Love Me Mondays”. Before bed, I’d tell them something I love about them (even little things like “your handwriting”) and they had to say something they love about themselves. Also, I read an article that said people who are thankful grow up to be more positive. So, before dinner we all say something we’re thankful for (even little things!). You could do it with a dry erase board, too. “Today I’m thankful for…”

    I think spending one-on-one time with Aby doing “girl stuff” might be helpful, too. Michael is probably getting a lot of your energy right now (It’s normal) but she’s at a very formative time in her life.

  11. Pingback: How I always deal with a knock to my confidence – 4 easy tips «

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