I worry about this, a lot. Kids these days can be mean, cold, and petty. One might point to diminishing church attendance or to the advent of the disengaged parent as possible causes. Whatever the reason, it is a reality. Mean girls. Bullying. Harassment. All of these things are problems in our society. As a single dad to one kind and wholesome 6 year old, the why is less important than the how she learns to deal with it.
One of the ways I am working on that is by building up her confidence in herself. She has always played soccer (she suffers through her dad being the coach as well). I want her exposed to team sports so she understands the dynamics of working with other kids. It is also an activity that helps her build athleticism, fitness, and coordination. My personal feeling is that team sports are a great asset in helping build well-rounded kids.
Another activity she loves is rock climbing. And by rock climbing I mean the rock gym with rope, harness, and belay. It is a great individual activity for kids to build self reliance and self-confidence. It requires patience and thought and purposeful movement. All characteristics that any kid would benefit from. Not to mention being a great tool for learning to deal with and overcome fear. There is also a huge upper-body strength builder which most young girls don’t get outside of gymnastics. If you have a kid I cannot recommend rock climbing enough as a way to build them up.
Something else we do is create ‘Challenge Events’ to complete. Our last event was a couple of weekends ago. In our town we have something called the Incline. It is an amazingly steep mile long trail up the side of a mountain. Grown adults who are in shape struggle with it. Fifi and I set a challenge to go hike it. The normal hike is a little under four miles (all of the elevation gain is in the first mile). When we arrived we were two cars too late to get a parking spot. It meant driving back down to the main town area and hiking up from there. Not a big deal aside from adding an extra MILE each direction.
I struggled mightily on the way up. My energizer bunny daughter had to keep waiting for me to catch her. She was feeding on the fact that she was blowing past adults. “I am doing so much better than my dad!” was something I heard her tell others repeatedly. We eventually cleared the summit holding hands. I took the photo below at the top. In her face I see all of the things I want her to have in life. I see pure joy, wonder, and happiness. I also see pride in accomplishment. I see confidence. I see a young girl who is up for the challenge of life. And that means a great deal to me. Pax vobiscom.