There’s a (false and unhelpful) message we broadcast to our children that goes like this:
The World is a Difficult Place.
In order to survive in a Difficult Place, we have to be Strong.
If you’re not Strong you can’t survive.
Therefore I (your parent) must make you Strong.
Therefore I (your parent) must subject you to Painful Things and hope that you will get Strong.
Do you have this narrative running somewhere in the back of your head?
Does it come out to play when you see your child struggling, or not acting like “all the other kids”?
Here’s the problem with this narrative.
It. Doesn’t. Work.
(You already know this, but I’ll spell it out below).
In order to grow a vibrant thriving Orchid flower, we don’t put it in the shade and tell it to “toughen up”. We don’t fill it up with water and tell it to “toughen up”. We don’t NOT water it and tell it to “toughen up”. We don’t move it around every day and tell it to “toughen up”.
If we have an orchid plant at home, we put it in the Just Right Place. We give it a Just Right amount of water. We make sure it’s at the Just Right temperature with the Just Right amount of light.
We give the orchid plant what it needs so that it can thrive, or we end up throwing away dead orchids. (guilty!)
Likewise, Orchid Kids need a set of Just Right conditions in order to thrive. They need small, sequential Just Right Challenges in order to get strong, resilient and confident.
The way we “toughen up” Orchid Kids is by giving them many-more-but-much-smaller challenges.
Strength, flexibility and resilience (all qualities we say we want in People) comes from SMALL stressors presented over time with space between to recover, integrate and learn.
Because their nervous systems often become overwhelmed quickly and often, Orchid Kids do not do well when pushed into challenges that are too big.
For Orchid Kids, steps are often smaller than we expect, and they can be harder to spot.
Most kids can go to a group sports program and figure out how to participate in some way. Many Orchids can’t. It’s not that they don’t want to, but they lack the skills to figure out where they fit sometimes.
So, if your child is refusing to participate in sports, what’s a smaller “Just Right Challenge” for them? Is it to attend and simply observe? Is it to wait another season? Is it to practice with just one other child?
The question we want to ask is:
What will create the conditions where kiddo is WILLING AND ABLE? Being able to answer that question will bring you to the Just Right Challenge.
It’s totally normal for YOU to feel overwhelmed by having to figure out where the Just Right Challenge is. It’s HARD!
And if you need help remembering those things, I hope you’ll join us in our free Raising Orchid Kids Facebook group. You’ll get a community of folks who get it and can support you on your journey and can lift you up when you get low.
PS – do you know someone who needs this message today? Will you send it to them?