Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Letting Each Kid Shine

After a small break from doing Gymboree classes, my two middle daughters, Asher & Austin, started back up last week. Two and a half year old, Asher is a seasoned vet, but it was 19 month old, Austin's 1st time. So at first, Austin was extremely apprehensive in the new class. It was a whole new experience for her. So although she is usually very bold & daring, with her sisters out of the picture, she was forced to learn to stand on her own two feet. At the beginning of her class, she kept asking me to hold her & repeatedly tried to cling to me, staying right by my leg. Now, as a mommy, I immediately wanted to give in & "rescue her" from the situation by picking her up to let her know it was alright but I know better than that. I had to put myself in check. After all, I was already right there in the class with her & I knew she was safe, so instead of picking her up, I walked with her over to each activity, holding her by the hand to help give her that lil' boost of security. Then once we arrived at an activity, I sent her over to participate at each station with the other kids. As class time time progressed, Austin really started coming into to her own. I could even see a change in her walk as she began to confidently strut & screech from one activity to the next. Pretty soon she didn't even check to see if I was anywhere near her. It was really cool to see her have something to call all her own - her own class, without her sisters, & in 1 session I got a glimpse of what positive things could potentially come out of giving her this bit of independence.

In addition to having Austin in her very own class now, I strive to include her in other things to help boost her confidence level, realize she is capable, & let her "shine" on her own. I love doing art & science-type projects with the ladies & I have to admit they would be a lot easier to do with just Aidann & Asher, but Austin is now at the age where she A) notices when she is not included, and  B) needs those opportunities to see she is capable of participating in "big girl" things too!  I think these are examples of small things we can do to help eliminate some of the negative traits we sometimes see in the youngest and/or middle children, such as lack of confidence, shyness, being unsure and indecisive, not wanting to try, indifference, inferiority, etc.

It is so important not to let any of your kids fall into the shadow of their siblings. It is so easy to do! The bigger kids tend to want to answer for and/or help their younger siblings with things they are very capable of doing on their own. Heck, we even have to fight against not doing this ourselves. I have posted about it before, but it is something that is very important to keep in the forefront of our minds on a daily basis. We need to be careful not to compare kids and work on praising each & every one of them for the wonderful things they do & make, because they are being the best they can be. One kid may be more calm & easy-going while another may be a lil' more outgoing & loud. One may be very neat and orderly while another is more messy and "all over the place". This is okay! As parents, we need to allow our kids to develop as individuals! Two of the exact same thing make one of them unnecessary, right. I always ask my kids, "Does Mommy want you to be like Aidann? Does Mommy want you to be like Asher? Does Mommy want you to be like Austin? Does mommy want you to be like Adley?". They, of course, shake their head "no" until I say their name & then they reply, "You want me to be the best A____  that I can be!".

Asher is also not the oldest & so we definitely made sure we started her early in her own class at Gymboree, at around 1 1/2 years old. Now that we are back from our 3 month hiatus, Aidann is too old to do it anymore & I noticed Asher starting to embrace & step into the role of being the "big sister" with Austin even more then normal during the fifteen minutes their classes coincide. I don't think those lil' curls could have bobbed up & down anymore as she confidently dashed from each object to show Austin how to do it. From an early age, we fought against letting Asher slip into that role of feeling less important or capable than her big sister, Aidann, because there was a point she tried being shy, talking very softly, & claimed she wasn't capable of doing a lot of things. We had to make sure we never "fed into that". As a result, I have seen our lil Asher grow and develop in leaps & bounds as far as her independence and in developing autonomy, but it is a continuous fight. Yes, we must fight to never let her "slip under the radar", continually making sure she gets equal attention, accolades, & opportunity compared to her sisters. She knows she is a significant member of our family and she is noticed for the part she plays!

It can be hard not to compare kids or to let them hide in the other ones shadow (baby them), but it can be done if we just make the choice to work at it. I know I want each of my kids to be confident, happy, & successful individuals doing what they love!

-M&M Momma

Collecting the balls,
learning about hard vs. soft

Freeze dance

Parachute fun!

Showing lil' sister the ropes

Asher's class!


Collecting "seashells"

Relaxing with big sister

We love our special lil' character

Guess who can finally sport a ponytail?
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