It was hot. She was tired. We still had 2 miles left and she was DONE. I knew she wanted to finish all 10 miles but I just didn’t know if she would make it. On her 10th birthday Abi wanted to run 10 miles. She had participated in the 100 mile club at school and had run in a recent 10k. Still, this was almost 4 more miles. We had plenty of water and took some stretching breaks. We were on the final stretch home when she said she just couldn’t do it. I asked her if I needed to call daddy. She thought for a second and said “No!” Then she started running again. I told her she could do it. She could do hard things. If she could run 10 miles and not give up then she could do just about anything her entire 5th grade year. I pushed her just enough and she finished her first 10 mile run. She was determined to do it and so she did. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her more proud!
Less than 2 months later was a local 1 mile race. She had asked me if I would race with her so she could try to set her 1 mile PR. For whatever reason she was running angry and frustrated. I knew nothing good would come from trying to push her. It needed to come from her. I started to say a few encouraging words but she wasn’t having it. My motherly instinct told me to be quiet and let her lead. This was not the time and she was NOT in the mood for any for running advice. Once she was done she immediately realized she could have pushed herself harder which made her angry at herself and full of regret. She missed her PR and she knew it was because she just gave up on herself. It was hard to witness this as a parent because I have been there so many times myself and I know exactly how that feels. But she needed to learn this lesson in her own way and I needed to learn that not every run together is an opportunity to push. Sometimes as a parent we just have to know when to be silent and when it is the right time to step in or out of a situation. She didn’t want me up in her business. She needed me to be quiet. The truth is that not every run together is full of joy and magical happy moments. Sometimes it’s plain hard. After the race, once she was ready we talked about it which was really helpful. Needless to say, we both learned some lessons that day. How do you know when to push your child? Obviously there’s no exact answer and it will depend on many things but here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Know your child. This includes knowing their athletic ability, their competitive (or lack of competitive) nature and their motivation. Why do they want to do this?
- Know your child’s goal. Is it realistic? Can they do it? Are they prepared? How hard are they willing to work for it?
- Know the situation. What works one day might not work another day for any number of reasons. If you are encouraging your child through a challenging part and they listen and make an effort to stay focused then they are still “coachable.” But if any motivation or words of support seem to be aggravating or angering your child more then it’s time to stop. Either stop running or stop talking! Whatever it takes.
Running with your child is an opportunity to bond together. It’s an opportunity for your child to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. I’ve found that when in doubt it helps to look at the big picture. Yes, sometimes they need pushed. Knowing they can do hard things instills confidence and drive. Other times they need to figure it out on their own. They might not be ready for it just yet and that’s ok. They’ll get there…
And now the announcement you’ve been waiting for…
It was a very hard decision so we appreciate everyone who voted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
THE WINNER OF THE #RUN1 BROOKS KIDS SHOES GIVEAWAY IS…..
Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Run with Me Kids running event! We have an exciting new giveaway coming Monday so stay tuned…