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Cheerleading vs Commiserating

Over the past few years I have learned to change my language.

I used to feel so sorry for my daughter, Greta (I still do sometimes) and my language reflected that…

”Oh sweetie, I am so sorry that your pain is worse today.”

“It’s okay if you can’t do that today, let’s save your energy.”

“What can I do to help you feel better?”

“Maybe today we will just have to take it easy.”

“You don’t worry about that, I will do that for you.”

I felt like she was a victim and I talked like she was a victim and I felt really sorry for her. And for me. And for our family.

That is natural. And it is still definitely my default. Our kids have been dealt a REALLY hard hand in life and so have we.


Then I learned about how my response to her can play a little part in keeping us feeling helpless. And hopeless. And keeping her stuck rather than making progress.

And I felt defensive. Because I had been doing my absolute best to parent her.

I learned that she might be capable of more than I was giving her credit for. I learned that I kind of needed to be her coach rather than only a nurturing parent. I needed to almost look past the wonderful person that she was and coach her brain that was sending her pain signals all day long when her body wasn’t in danger.

So we learned to set teeny tiny goals that she could accomplish each week and I learned to cheerlead. And I had to find all the small things she did each day and point them out…

“Wow Greta, you did your goal today even when you weren’t feeling well”

“I can’t believe all you did today! You threw your socks in the laundry basket, brushed your teeth, did your walk AND organized your binder!!!”

“I am so proud of you for sitting with the family for dinner when you probably wanted to be laying in your bedroom, alone.”

“You talked to your teacher about that assignment even though you were scared what of she would say!”

My first instinct may still sometimes be to feel sorry for her, but I know that commiserating doesn’t help her. There may be a time for it, here and there, but cheerleading has helped us to make progress. And it has helped me as much as it has helped her, I think! Now we are more forward thinking rather than feeling stuck.

I have found that self-cheerleading has also been important for me! Rather than feeling like life isn’t what I expected, I have a thousand things on my to-do list, and why can’t I be self-disciplined enough to follow a 30 day exercise program, I am learning to praise myself for every little thing I get done.

Instead of thinking “I haven’t even showered yet and I am still in my pajamas.” I tell myself, “Hey, I just finished writing this post + I already did the dishes!”

What does your cheerleading sound like? What phrases do you use with your child (or yourself)?

~ Carla

The general contents of this website are provided solely for educational and informational purposes and are not meant to provide professional medical or psychiatric advice, counselling or therapeutic services.


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