“I just want a little power!”
Yelled my 9-year-old as she stomped to the bedroom in anger.
What she really wanted was to eat candy at 8:32 p.m. and stay up too late and things did not go well when I said “No.”
What she does want is the right to decide how she spends her time, lives her life. The freedom to choose.
I get it. We all want to have a say in the lives we live.
Be Accountable Not Blaming
To feel that freedom though, we also have to be accountable. We have to be capable. We have to get up off the couch and rescue ourselves from the beliefs holding us back.
We must stop blaming and making excuses. We must stop waiting for others to change or fix things for others to take care of us. We’ve got to get up and do it ourselves.
And when we do, when we exercise this kind of accountability, we are showing off our authentic capability.
It doesn’t have to be rough or stomping angry or alienating or abrasive. It is simply a declaration of our own capability and then a commitment to working with that. To solve our problems, get help when we need it, create the life we want, and take responsibility for the life we are creating.
Personal Power, Capability, Self-Efficacy
Albert Bandura and other psychologists calls this belief in our own ability to do what we need to do to solve, succeed, survive — self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is at the root of our persistence, grit, optimism, resilience. It is at the root of our authenticity and autonomy.
This is what I want Sweet P to know — her to know her own capability. I want her to trust in her ability to get out of a jam, solve a problem, handle the upset, and create fantastic, amazing, enlightening experiences in her own life.
I’m not saying she won’t feel upset or afraid or tired along the way. Of course. We all feel that way at times.
Life can be upsetting and frightening. We don’t always know what to do, how to get it right, but if we trust in our ability to handle it, we will figure it out. And there is power in knowing that.
Often this comes from experience. We do the thing we were afraid of, we handle a setback, overcome and adversity and we start to accumulate some evidence that we are capable, that we can influence outcomes, that we are okay.
For our kids to gain this experience then, this evidence of their own power, we have got to get out of the way. This is a toughie. I want to keep her close and safe. But, truly, the only way to really do that is by letting her know in little doses, what it is like to be uncertain, or afraid.
To not swoop in and take care of her, but to leave her room to take care of herself. To not solve her problems, but stand next to her in support as she solves them herself.
This is what I’m working on.
Still, no candy at bedtime.
So how am I working on this? How can we teach self-efficacy to our kids? Tune in Wednesday, and I’ll share some tips.