One afternoon, my daughter and her friend decided to climb a large maple tree in our front yard. The first large branch is only a few feet off the ground and easy to get to for a kid who’s climbed a couple trees before. The problem, however, was that my daughter had no experience climbing trees. She couldn’t get up on that first branch that’s only a few feet off the ground. She tried a few times with no success. Her initial frustration quickly escalated to catastrophic heights.
As she stormed away from the maple and into the house, she screamed, “I suck at climbing trees! I’ll never be able to climb a tree in my life! I’m a loser!” Then the tears came.
I waited a moment before I followed her into the house.
I found her face down on the couch. I rubbed her back and said, “Listen. Climbing a tree is hard. It takes lots of practice. If climbing a tree is something you want to be able to do, we can work on it. You can’t do it yet. Remember, you couldn’t ride your bike at first, but now you’re really good. You are good at lots of things. You are definitely not a loser.”
Over the next few days, I found my daughter under the maple tree trying different ways to pull herself up onto that first branch. And the look on her face when she finally did was priceless.