See, back in my day, apparently, The President of the United States wanted to know how fit I was, so he asked my P.E. teacher to test me (and my peers) in different feats of athleticism: the shuttle run, sit-ups, standing broad jump, and... the dreaded pull-ups. Rumor had it, that any kid that could pass the test every year in grade school would get a free trip to Washington, D.C. as a thank from the Commander in Chief.
Yes, I was an athletic kid, fast, good hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, but I had no upper body strength. None! So, although I was able to make President Reagan proud of me in every other challenge, I could barely do a pull-up. It was the bane of my P.E. existence. I couldn't do pull-ups.
When I got to college, I started working out with weights, and I put on some muscle. I would do squats, presses and curls, but I wouldn't do pull-ups. Why? Because I had lost all confidence in my pull-ups ability in grade school (thank you, Mr. President).
Over the years, I became more physically fit, and by the time I was 40 I decided to take the Men's Health Fitness Challenge to see if I was optimally fit... five areas: the mile run, squats, vertical jump, push-ups, and...yes, you guessed it, pull-ups.
I was terrified! But, why? I was a fit middle-aged man, but that ten-year old inside of me still had no confidence when it came to pull-ups. I remember picking my daughter up from her after school program one day and saw a pull-up bar with no one around. So, I tried it out. I was able to do required the nine reps with no problem.
Funny thing is, a couple years later I did the P90X program which incorporates pull-ups, and every day that I had a pull-up day, I became anxious, wondering if I would be able to get my chin over the bar. The thing was, I could do it without problem, and this middle-aged man knew that, but the next week, the grade-schooler in me would question my abilities once again.
So, what's this got to do with parenting? As parents, we need to instill belief in our kids early on. Because, no matter what they grow up to become, there will always be that kid inside of them that still believes they are who they used to be. We've all heard about the attractive woman who still sees herself as an ugly duckling, the CEO who still questions his math abilities, and the woman who chooses a man who abuses her because that's what she "deserves" based on her childhood abuse.
We have the power to mold that little kid today who will speak to our adult child in the future. So, let's build them up. Let's point out their strengths. Let's help identify their passions. And, let's get them on the pull-up bar early...those things are hard.
image courtesy of ©MorgueFile.com/verbaska