When adults approach weight loss, or any significant life change, we have huge expectations of getting everything right from the beginning. As a result, programs that advertise “lose weight quick” or “30 days to success” are wildly popular. But, what if we gave ourselves permission to think like a kindergartener and embraced the reality: learning how to lose weight is a one-step-at-a-time process.
Last week my oldest started kindergarten. His teacher told us not to expect homework in the first month, but he missed school on Friday. Yesterday he brought home his first worksheet to complete and return to school. The make-up work gave us a taste of what afternoons will be like as soon as homework becomes a regular part of life.
The missed assignment was to fill an entire page with lowercase “s.” The uppercase “S” sheet had been completed earlier in the week. Now, “s” is a great letter for him to work on. It happens to be the first letter in his name. He has already started working on writing his own name. I assumed completing a page full of “s” would be a piece of cake. In fact, half the exercise involved tracing his teacher’s examples. He even expressed interest and excitement about completing the assignment. Confident in his ability, I left the paper, with a pencil, on his activity table, and went back to work.
Over the next hour and a half I called out reminders for him to pick up the pencil and write his “s’s.”
Eventually, it became clear that he needed help to focus on the task. He was all over the place. With pencil in hand, he started telling me elaborate stories about the things on my desk. Each time I brought his attention back to the page and he completed another “s”
When he finally finished his “s’s” – about 30 in all – I looked over his work. I expected to see some sort of progression as he worked down the page but, there really wasn’t much change. He had a couple that were spot on but, most were closer to sickly angular pythons than alphabet characters. That said, I pointed out the roundest letters on the page and we high-fived his achievement.
He went off to play and I took a minute to think.
What if we accept that learning something new takes time, coaching, and practice. What if we allow ourselves a moment to celebrate the small achievements, knowing they will lead to bigger results? What if we took a big goal one step at a time?
Imagine how much happier the journey would be and how much further you could go if you approached your weight loss goal from a place of wonder. What if you start to take some time to delight in the new things you get to do along the way?
My son didn’t look at his page full of squiggles and stress over the flaws. As far as he is concerned there is all the time in the world to fill pages with letters. He did the work, he enjoyed the process, he celebrated his improvement, and he let one lesson be enough for the day.
His anxiety-free approach to learning certainly taught me a lesson. I have a feeling my son won’t be the only one who’s ideas expand in kindergarten.