When I sat with my 15 month old at the kitchen table and dipped bread in my soup for lunch, 10 seconds later he was doing the same thing. When I couldn’t find our dog in the house last week and started to get worried as I called her name, my son mirrored my emotional state and began to call out for her as well. When we found her upstairs, he and I were both noticeably relieved.
Our kids are paying attention to everything we do, and this is a beautiful opportunity for us as parents to impart meaningful lessons every day.
What do you do when you feel nervous? How do you handle stress? The way you answer those questions matters to your children, because you are the role model - whether you feel like it most days or not! Here is the good news, kids want to learn and want to try new things and we can encourage them to do so by doing it ourselves.
This fall season, I encourage you to do something new in front of your child. Show him that it is ok to be nervous, teach her that fun might just be on the other side of fear. Whether or not you feel like a superhero most days, your child sees you as one. To your child, you know everything. As a parent, to demonstrate that you too still get nervous and that you still know how to have a learner’s mind will help your child feel more connected to you and will encourage them to pursue things outside of their comfort zone building muscles for resilience, confidence and happiness.
Discovery Day 2023 is a terrific example of kids being given the opportunity to do something new and to find the fun in not knowing what’s coming next! This past April, South Carolina ETV and partners, including myself, invited kids from all across our state to tour the SCETV studio and take part in an audition. Some kids were nervous, others downright excited, and all had the chance to do something they’ve never done before - walk into a big room and audition in front of a panel of industry professionals and a camera that looked like something from Star Wars.
The results were fantastic! Kids who were afraid at the beginning of the day were dancing in the halls by the end. By creating an environment for kids to try something new while surrounded by others rooting for them gave each child permission to open up, to drop their worry about looking silly, and to engage with their talent in a new way. As parents, you get to be that support system every day, cheering your child on! What a gift.
Being nervous is not a bad thing - being nervous can often lead you where you need to go! In my work as a coach, I encourage my clients to practice being nervous. After all, being nervous is a part of life! When we try new things we can feel the butterflies going wild in our stomach mostly because we have no idea what is going to happen next - and as an acting teacher I can tell you - THAT is where the magic is! When you decide to trust yourself and try something new instead of shying away from experience, big things can happen. You may realize you have a great singing voice, you may discover a love for music, you may even realize that playing different characters makes you feel happy and deepens your empathy for others.
At Discovery Day, each child found a way to move past the nerves and jump into the fun of the audition room and it was beautiful to witness. Being able to stick with something through the discomfort is vitally important for children to learn at an early age, because again, life is always going to throw us curve balls and it is how we react that defines us.
This fall, try something new in front of your kids. Pick an activity that pushes you past your personal comfort zone and invite your child along for the ride. Risk looking silly so that your child can see that being silly is healthy and creative. Show that perfection is not the goal - only adventure is. Right now, you have the opportunity to encourage a life of creativity and confidence in your child by trying new things yourself! Be the role model you were born to be, teach the lessons you wish you knew earlier and run open hearted into adventures big and small with your little one right by your side. Life is much more beautiful when shared.
Mary Rogers M. Herskovitz is the Founder and CEO of The Good Habit, a wellness company that focuses on helping people get out of their stress and into their joy. Pulling from over 25 years in the acting studio, Mary Rogers has curated a method of coaching that inspires change at the fundamental level, helping people build confidence, resilience, and happiness through a multidisciplinary approach. She partners with individuals, groups, and organizations to deliver one-on-one coaching, workshops, and creative experiences. Contact her at email@example.com.