By Jeannette Webb
In my younger years (well, okay, MUCH younger years) I was a high jumper. Before the track meet started you could see athletes all over the field warming up – jogging and stretching. As the event started, the bar was set low to give us all a chance to take a few warm up jumps without risking a disqualifying knock down. Even so, inexperienced high jumpers were quickly eliminated. Tension mounted as the bar inched its way ever higher and fewer and fewer athletes were left. Eventually only one athlete was in the competition and officials would continue raising to bar to see if a record would be set that day.
The interesting thing was that more intense the competition, the higher I went. Because someone else could do it, by golly, I could too! When that bar snapped into place at a seemingly impossible height, I gave it my all because I knew it was possible.
I’ve worked with kids for 30 years, been a mom for 25, and in that whole time I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve trained young people with the high jumping philosophy. We started low to warm up, then quickly moved the bar up as they gained confidence. Sure, sometimes they knocked the bar off, but life, as in sports, gives you several chances. And here’s the neat thing, I have never seen a kid I worked with closely fail the challenge I offered. My belief in them propelled them into things they never thought possible.
Here’s the secret: I never assumed their limits. The only thing I know for sure is that I am ALWAYS amazed at what young people can accomplish when someone believes in them and in their potential.
Most parents and teachers unwittingly limit their children by their own beliefs. What are limiting beliefs?
1. That our own limits are also our child’s limits. Whether you have a fear of math or public speaking or poverty, never let that settle into your children’s psyche. By your words and actions show them you believe in their ability to move beyond where you are personally.
2. That our kids are limited by the confines of what their peers have accomplished. Quite honestly, most folks are short sighted in this respect. They look around at their child’s youth group, homeschool high school co-op, neighbor kids and think they’re not doing too badly.
Put on some glasses and take a wider view. I’ve seen regular kids do remarkable things:
- build a hugely successful business
- run a congressional campaign
- start college classes at the age of 10
- teach classes
- write a book that got published
- stabilize the budget of a nonprofit through their fundraising efforts
3. That our kids are limited by what we think we see in them. Let me tell you a story. My daughter was the sweetest little girly girl who loved people, the color pink, public speaking and music. She was a good student, but not a standout. But the requirement at our house was that she follow a rigorous college prep program which included AP level science and math classes. I have to be honest that I am still surprised at what happened. The kid came alive! She had the highest averages in her classes. She wanted to do genetics research while still in high school. She decided to pursue the toughest engineering major on her tough college campus.
Here’s what I learned through that experience. I’m not smart enough to know what is possible for my children (and neither are you). Only God knows that. My job as a parent is to keep raising the bar, exploring the possible.
4. That our kids are limited by our social group. – If no one in our homeschool group or church has ever attempted AP classes or gained entry into one of America’s top colleges, it must not be the right thing to do. In fact, it must be a sin. Let me share something very important with you. The real sin is to hold your child back from reaching the potential that God gave them. Here’s the scary thing. By buying into any of the limiting beliefs, we can actually limit the miracles that God can do in our child’s life.
Trust me. Your child is capable of so much more than you give them credit for. Get rid of the limits and watch them soar over that bar!