ROOTED IN LOVE ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved to ride his bike, play outside, and go fishing. One day, he decided it might be fun to try his hand at painting. So he asked his grandmother if she could get him some paint supplies. “Why do you want to do that?” the grandmother replied. “Painting is for girls and sissies.” This wasn’t true, of course, because many great artists are men, but the little boy didn’t know that. All he knew was that his grandmother had shot down his wonderful idea and wounded his little heart. And that little boy grew into a man who never entertained the idea of painting, ever again.
That little boy might not have been the next Leonardo da Vinci, but he might have found something he loved. But he never got to find out, because he wasn’t encouraged to try. The careless words of someone he loved made him lose interest in something he might have otherwise enjoyed.
This is why it’s so important to choose our words carefully with children and encourage them when they show interest in trying new things. Now, of course, there will be times when we may have to intervene or have a discussion if something is dangerous, harmful or inappropriate.
But we shouldn’t shoot down their ideas just because they don’t mesh with ours, nor should we make them feel bad or stupid for wanting to do something.
Children are so vulnerable, and their hearts can be hurt by thoughtless words. They need to be built up and encouraged. Maybe I don’t like painting or football or ballet or whatever it may be, but that doesn’t mean my child can’t enjoy it or be really good at it. I don’t want to discourage my kids from something they might be called to do, and I definitely don’t want to hurt their little hearts.
It's funny how a brief moment in time probably meant nothing to the grandmother in the story, but the boy carried it with him throughout his childhood and even into adulthood. How we speak to children – how we encourage them or discourage them – has a huge part in shaping who they become. Little ones need support to build their confidence.
Our words have power, so we need to use them wisely. Little ears are listening, and so are little hearts. It’s the little moments, day by day, that they’ll carry with them later in life. Following their dreams shouldn’t be frowned upon, but rather encouraged and inspired. We can either help them soar or clip their wings. Hopefully we choose the first one.