'When Pigs Fly' is an adynaton — a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it entirely defies possibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question (both the actual adynaton and the circumstances to which one applies the adynaton) will never occur. For instance, saying, "He'll get that job when pigs fly!" insinuates that the person in question here won't be getting the job anytime soon.
In other words, the thought of flying pigs is utterly ridiculous — after all everyone knows pigs can't fly. Or can they? Read on to discover how a flying pig in my kitchen helped our children discover self-efficacy, gain self-confidence, and exude self-esteem! As if this weren't confusing enough, you're probably scratching your head and wondering, "How flying pigs (or at least the adynaton) can have anything to do with inspiring self-value for children?"
Let's set the flying pigs aside for just a moment and talk about self-value; or, the ability to recognize one's worth. I like to think of self-value as a wheel somewhere within character headquarters in each of us. Three perfectly synchronized cogs in that wheel — self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-esteem — work together to keep self-value cranking for us. It's important to consider all three 'cogs' when inspiring self-value for children; however, begin with self-efficacy — without it, attaining the other two will be more difficult.
Self-efficacy is the ability to define a realistic goal for one's self, believe in one's capabilities, and strategize a path to realizing success — of course; a burning passion for accomplishing this something can be quite helpful too! As parents, it's important that we help our children set realistic goals for themselves and strategize their path. Success in self-efficacy ensures that the other two cogs — self-confidence and self-esteem — are kept moving smoothly.
Children who have wholly embraced self-efficacy believe in their heart that they can do anything they put their mind to doing. This belief in personal worth with the likelihood of success is self-confidence — at its very core; however, confidence will be far more deep-rooted when it's the result of self-efficacy by way of goal setting and realized successes.
The more ingrained a child's confidence becomes, the greater the likelihood that the child will have high self-esteem. Accomplishing goals with reasonable expectations, by believing in oneself and strategizing successful paths, boosts self-esteem — which is a substantiated confidence in one's abilities.
"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever being able to do it."
~ J.M. Barrie, 'Peter Pan'
As parents, it's so important to encourage self-efficacy for our children. You can now see that it's such an important cog in the wheel. Self-efficacy feeds self-confidence which feeds self-esteem. When a child has the whole package deal (self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-esteem), they have high self-value.
A common question I often get from parents is, "What are some ways that I can promote self-efficacy for my children?" First, for me, it's as simple as reinforcing the self-efficacy message by reminding my children every chance I get that with some hard work, a lot of perseverance, and a dash of passion they can do anything they put their mind to doing! Second, I try to show them by example — it might be by my example or by someone else's. The important thing is that the example illustrates to children that no matter who you are, there are times in life when you set goals for yourself — some may be easier than others to accomplish — but they are all established with success in mind. Third, I welcome any outreach for guidance and encourage my children to formulate their goals; then, set a sound strategy for success. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I support the goals my children set for themselves. Obviously, here's where 'reasonable goals' comes into play. Because I know there are physiological limitations, I couldn't support a goal of flying like Peter Pan — or even a pig for that matter! Setting the sweet little pink porkers aside again for just another minute and I promise, we will get back to my flying pig!
I'll never forget the time my daughter, Meggie, then 12 years old (almost 13) saw herself reading classic literature throughout the summer. She set a goal for herself; she was going to read the complete list of 225 that she had found on-line. The list included works like "War and Peace," "Pride and Prejudice," "The House of Seven Gables," "Great Expectations," "Wuthering Heights," "Ulysses" — well you get the gist — these are all relatively complex works for a 12-year-old. At the time, knowing Meggie's tenacity, I could somewhat justify the goal as being reasonable. Although, it was probably as unrealistic a goal as flying like Peter Pan. Nevertheless, I supported her 100% and off to the local library we went. And week after week, she crossed books off that list and week after week we returned to the library for more books on it. By the end of the summer, the paper had completely tattered edges — having been folded and unfolded over and over again — and was stain-covered — with everything from dirt to pb&j to I dare not even venture a guess! But, every single book 'on' that list had been crossed 'off' that list with a pencil or a variety of different pens and highlighters. I am left still shaking my head in disbelief to this day! She had read 225 works of classic literature — oh, and did I mention the list was for advanced high school and college students. She had read "War and Peace" — word for word — at just 12 years old! Okay, I will admit, I am not sure exactly how much she understood or retained at the time. Caveat: She has read it several times since — each time remarking that she finds something new about it. I'm sure she does! ;-)
The point of my story is that Meggie set her goal, saw herself as capable, then achieved her success. Not only is this a shining example of self-efficacy, but it's also an amazing accomplishment — both of which contributed to my daughter's self-confidence and self-esteem at a young age. The long-term reward is that I now have a young adult with high self-value, which is such an important character attribute and one with which many millennials seem to be struggling. But that's a different topic for another day and a later blog!
Oh! And of course, back to the flying pig! We actually have a winged, cast iron pig that sits on the shelf in our kitchen to remind each and every one of us, each and every day, that anything is possible in our house because pigs do fly here. Whatever it takes — even if it's a funny flying pig in your kitchen — start your children believing that anything (within reason) is possible with a little bit of hard work, a lot of perseverance, and a dash of passion!
Let us know how you promote self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-esteem for your children. Please comment below.
Oh! And by the way, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd...