edu180atl: deb ellis 1.18.12
‘I am amazing!’ she sings out happily, floating on her back. Four years old and swim-float-swimming across a pool. Reaching the ladder, she flashes a grin. ‘I did it, Ms. Deb! I am amazing!’
A few weeks before my student spent her survival swim lessons in tears, full of fear and doubt and What Ifs. What if she sank? What if I didn’t help her when she needed it? What if she failed?
At night I reviewed her lessons, searching for the key to unlock her confidence. How could I help her see and believe in her abilities?
Finally, I devised a plan. Every time she tried floating on her back, she must declare, ‘I am amazing!’
That first afternoon she offered only a whisper… ‘I am amazing?’ With each attempt, I smiled above her, looking in her eyes and repeating with her, ‘You are amazing!’ Soon she was confidently declaring her awesomeness and floating solo.
Preparing for another season, I am mindful of the impact of words. Our society pays close attention to what our children say to each other. But what they say to themselves is also crucial to their success.
Since that one student I am more conscious of listening to children’s self-talk. And of how I model self-talk in front of them. Every now and then, I’ll throw out my arms and declare to my two sons, ‘I am amazing!’
I hope one day they respond, arms open wide, ‘I am amazing too!’
About the Author: A mother of 2 fantastic boys attending High Meadows School, Deb Ellis is a freelance writer and ISR Swim Instructor with Turtle Tots Swimming. She learns much more from her children and students than she teaches. Partly because she’s goofy (but mostly to embarrass her sons), she likes to declare her worth in odd places like the cereal aisle at Costco.