~ Ashley Brilliant, English Author
Did you ever watch the ski jump competition at the Olympics? How do these athletes do it? How can they get on top of that jump, look down, and give themselves freely to gravity, speed and who knows what?
In the 1980s I was on a business trip to Oslo Norway, sight of the 1956 Olympics. I decided to walk to the Holmenkollen Olympic Ski Jump which remained high on a hill overlooking the city. When I got to the base of the jump, the view, the height, the dizzying height was amazing! All of Oslo lay before me. But this was only the base of the jump, not one step up to the top where the wild ride begins down an unbelievably steep slope.
Many times growing up, I had something before me that looked like my own personal ski jump. And unfortunately, many times I walked away. I needed someone to coach me, someone to give me the courage I lacked within me alone. In my situation, my dad wasn't there to coach me and my mom was too busy raising six children alone.
Courage comes best in small doses. Imagine how a young boy, who doesn't know how to swim, would feel if you threatened to throw him into the deep side of a pool? You could think that approach would be best, like yanking off a Band-Aid...the quicker the better. But you could also be making a big mistake! More likely, you have to get his feet wet first. The same may be true for learning to ride a bike, playing baseball, or joining a debate team.
'Easy does it' is the approach you want to take for most of their challenges. For instance, I would guess a student ski jumper starts by jumping off the equivalent of a kitchen table, then a little higher, and a little higher, getting more and more comfortable, and more and more courageous with every success.
If you push your children into something they fear too quickly, they may push back. If you push even harder, a real issue can develop. Let them ease into the water. Put training wheels on their bike. Play catch with them before they join a baseball team. Let them perform a speech for you alone. Then, they will be ready for the next step. And when they reach the equivalent of the bottom of the ski jump hill, they will feel exhilarated!
Now occasionally your child just has to do something cold turkey. For example, the first day of school may cause a lot of anxiety as would getting a flu shot. Small steps can't always be applied but encouragement is always a good idea. Know when small steps will help. Know when throwing them into a situation, with a little pep talk, is best. Know your kids! Dads, be the encouraging figure your children need!