Last September Ellie started swimming lessons. For a variety of reasons I hadn’t been able to start her in lessons sooner but I’m incredibly proud to say that she’s really taken to it and enjoys it alot. This week Ellie successfully got her 50m badge – I am so excited and so proud. Unfortunately however, due to a combination of knowing what badges some of her friends have already got, and having very high expectations of herself, Ellie isn’t nearly so excited or proud.
It didn’t help much that at the end of the lesson the teacher was encouraging Ellie by saying that she’d done well and her strokes were good, so she should definitely go for her 100m badge next week. On the car journey home I repeated this saying how well she’d done and that ‘you should try for your 100m, your teacher knows you can do it’. What was meant to be encouraging and positive turned out to be quite the opposite for Ellie – who promptly burst in to tears and said ‘I can’t do it, I’m not very good at swimming!’
In trying to be encouraging about next week I had clearly failed to express strongly enough how proud I was of her achievement this week and that it doesn’t matter if she tries for her 100m badge next week or not. Although I had said both of these things, Ellie clearly was focussed upon what in her view she couldn’t do. I quickly repeated to Ellie that it was amazing that she had her 50m badge, that she should be proud and that I was very very proud. We soon agreed a treat she could have for getting her 50m badge, and I repeated with some force how proud she made me.
Unfortunately, even after that she only reluctantly agreed for me to text her Dad to tell him and has point blank refused to take her badge into the ‘celebration assembly’ at school because ‘the others will laugh’.
All in all – it seems to me that Ellie isn’t very proud of herself, when she really should be. This is a clear reminder of something I already know about my little girl – she has incredibly high expectations of herself and puts herself under pressure in everything. Funnily enough her school parents evening highlighted this exact same point with the teacher commenting that Ellie doesn’t like to get things wrong and never needs motivating.
I can only hope that if I keep telling her how wonderful she is and how proud of her i am that she might, eventually, believe me.