I have a confession to make. I make fun of cheerleaders. Not all cheerleaders…just some. I was that sports girl, playing basketball, volleyball, softball, ran some track and I’d say to myself, “I’m going to try out for cheerleading as a joke” but then realized “What if I made it?!?! Yikes!”
Needless to say, I was not the cheerleading type. (Don’t get me wrong, I think cheerleading can be a sport as long as they don’t just shake their pom-pom’s shouting hoo-rah and giggle the whole time.)
But I’m here to tell you folks…I am now the world’s biggest cheerleader. So suit up in your mini skirt, and get ready to shake your pom-pom’s ‘cuz it’s time to shout hoo-rah (figuratively speaking, of course). The kind of cheerleader I’m talking about though is not the kind that shakes pom-pom’s, does high kicks, or yells “Go! Fight! Win!”. I’m talking about being a cheerleader for your children; every single day. Mom-Cheerleading.
The idea for Mom-Cheerleading came to me today while I was helping L do some at-home therapy. Right now she has a cast on her left arm (opposite her affected side) for therapy called Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, which basically forces her non-dominant side to do everything. Can you imagine the frustration?! Picture your 2-year old self with a cast on your dominant hand and then try to go about your daily activities. Are you serious? I couldn’t do it! Heck, I can’t even watch L do it! It breaks my heart and makes me proud all at the same time.
We were playing puzzles this afternoon, and L was struggling to grasp those giant knob puzzle pieces with “Right Hand” (as we have so affectionately named her right hand).
“Go L! You are doing it! Wow!” I cheered as she desparately tried to grasp the giraffe piece.
She couldn’t get it in and looked at me with those sad baby blues and said, “Mommy do it?”
I had a decision here. I could do it for her, help her do it, or let her keep trying by herself. My thought process was feeling frazzled. I wanted to save L from this frustration and grab the piece and put it where it went. I wanted to say that it was okay, Mommy was here to help her. I snapped myself out of it. How was she going to get stronger if I did it myself? I decided that I needed to continue to cheer her on.
“That’s kind of hard, huh, L? But you can do it! L is so good at it! Right Hand can do it! Go baby girl!” I cheered and clapped.
L stuck her tongue out in between her lips, and put on her concentrated face. She reached for the puzzle piece, trying so hard to do it. After pawing at the piece for awhile, she finally grasped it.
“You did it L! Wahoo! You are so good at it!” Then I helped her move the piece to it’s correct spot and encouraged her to “get it in there, L!”
She clapped. “I did it, Mom!” She beamed. I was so proud of my girl.
We continued playing puzzles for awhile, and then switched to beads, then played other games. All the while, I kept thinking to myself, “I am turning into a cheerleader!” I laughed to myself. “But that’s okay,” I thought, “I’m cheering for my girl!”
For the past 2 years, I’ve realized that I have had to become the world’s best cheerleader. So many things that are a piece of cake for most kids, are kind of difficult for my kid. We celebrate even the slightest thing – grabbing onto her bike handle with “Right Hand”, clapping, the day she finally could walk on her feet instead of her knees. Today I came to the conclusion that every kid needs a cheerleader – their mom (or dad).
Mom-Cheerleading is all about encouragement, praise, and support – in all areas of life. Did your kid help you with housework? “Thanks, L, you are so good at helping Mom!” Did they get someone out in dodgeball in PE? “Way to go, L! I bet that was tricky!” Are they having a hard time learning to read? “It’s hard to read sometimes, huh? But you can do it, L! Look at how good you’ve done reading this book with Mom today!”
I’ve been blessed with a mom (and a dad) who are wonderful at encouraging notes, signs, words, letters, etc. my whole life. If you’re not a verbal person – these are great suggestions for you for joining our Mom-Cheerleading squad! If you are verbal – add this to your encouragement repertoire!
There are many books, articles, and opinions out there who say that you shouldn’t encourage your children that much, because it means that your children won’t be able to accept criticism or will be in constant search of acceptance.
To that I say, BOO. Encourage your children! Praise them! Support them! Do as much Mom-Cheerleading as you see fit for your child!
So, if you want to shake some pom-pom’s, wear a mini-skirt, and shout hoo-rah, then by all means, do it. Join the squad! I guarantee that your home will be a happier place, your children will build self-confidence, and the love for your children will bloom into something wonderful if you become a Mom-Cheerleader! And don’t forget – we need Dad-Cheerleaders, too!
“Go! Fight! Win!”