This summer my 11 year old Godson, Kendon, is spending a few weeks with me. Despite having an 11pm bedtime, he tends to wake up every morning around 6:30 am and this morning was no different. In my hazy fog of sleep, I could hear the "bing" as he turned on the X-Box so that he could watch Power Rangers on Netflix. Luckily, I had set him up with a pair of headphones, so I never had to hear the TV and could sleep in perfect silence.
Shortly afterwards, I decided that it was time for me to get up and get ready for the day. As I made Kendon a bowl of oatmeal, he took his headphones off and approached the kitchen. My first thought was that he was hungry and wanted to know what I was cooking for breakfast. But to my surprise he asked if he could stay home from summer camp today and work on making a paper boat.
Exactly one week ago, I explained to Kendon that in one week there would be a paper boat challenge where the winner would win a prize. I took the time to explain to him what a paper boat was and we even watched YouTube videos of last year's challenge. I then told him that it was up to him to figure out how to make the paper boat and to determine what type of paper to use.
Six days went by and Kendon did not utter a sound about the paper boat. I thought that he had completely forgotten since he is so engrossed in the Power Rangers during every waking moment of the day. So that's why I was taken aback when he woke up remembering that the challenge was today.
I took a few moments to figure out how I wanted to answer this question. Part of me wanted to allow him to stay home and we could make the paper boat together because I really wanted to make a boat and enter the challenge myself. But the other part of me saw this as a learning opportunity concerning procrastination. So as I faced him, I decided to tell him no. I rarely tell ever him no, since I only get to see him once a year. But I knew that this lesson would stay with him for a lifetime.
I gently told him that waiting to the last minute was not the proper way to do things. I reminded him that he had all week to work on the paper boat but chose to do other things like watch the Power Rangers in his spare time. I ended by explaining to him the importance of priorities and planning.
As he sat at the breakfast bar eating his oatmeal, he looked like a sad puppy. His melancholy face almost made me give in until I asked him what was wrong. He replied by saying that he "really messed up" and he was very upset with himself. That's when I realized that the critical view of one's self that a majority of adults possess, start at moments like this. And I was not about to let my own Godson put himself down so it was time to raise his self esteem up!
The following things that I told him can apply to anyone who needs a little help with self-esteem.
1. Accept your mistake. Once you have made a mistake, do not ignore it, accept it. What is done is done. Move forward by either fixing the mistake or letting it be. Not all things can be fixed so ask for forgiveness and let it go.
2. Do something that feels good. After you make a mistake, you feel bad about it. So replace that bad feeling with a good one. Do something that you know will be a smile on your face. For Kendon, I knew that he loves to eat chicken. So instead of packing some boring lunchmeat for his lunch, I replaced it with two pieces of chicken from last night's dinner! That put a huge smile on his face.
3. Learn from it. There's a life lesson in every mistake. So take a few minutes to think about what lesson the universe is teaching you at this moment. Your mistake is an opportunity for growth and development. Kendon learned that preparation is important and procrastination may cause you to miss out.
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