My 13 year old has a bad habit that she has been trying to break. She has a habit of lying. We have talked about it and how to overcome it for almost a year now.
Today, she made a small step towards overcoming her lying. She stopped herself in the middle of the lie, corrected herself, and spoke truth.
Afterwards she said, very nonchalantly “I just wanted to make sure I was speaking truth and not lies.” and then she started to leave the room. I called her back for a high five, and she barely touched my hand. I told her that what she did was a very good thing and deserved a better high five than that. So she hit my hand a little harder.
That was it. I realized right then and there in that moment that she needed some sort of HUGE celebration to help her realize that this tiny step will led to BIGGER steps which will help her overcome.
So we did the happy dance. Not just a tiny happy dance, but an all out, get down, raise your hands in the air happy dance!
So why is that so important to celebrate the little things in big ways?
We have a friend who is a brain therapist who told us the brain likes pleasure. And, sadly, there is pleasure in sin (if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t do it). Sometimes the pleasure is in simply avoiding the pain. Sometimes the pleasure is in getting away with something and not getting caught. But for whatever reason, my daughter’s brain was getting pleasure from lying.
So to overcome that, let’s give her pleasure in telling the truth. Smiles. High fives. Happy dances with mom.
The principle can be applied to anything:
- to the two year old who put the toy away after taking it out
- to the 8 year old who unloaded the dishwasher without being asked
- to the 12 year old who worked diligently on their math
- to the teenager who overcame and did it anyway (my 15 yr old told me just the other day how important it is for her too)
- to the mom who didn’t eat that second piece of chocolate cake no matter how good it tasted
But each small thing is one more small step towards the finish line. By celebrating the two year old who put the one toy away, and turned three and wipes down the table, and turns 4 and cleans his spot at the table, and turns … and turns … and turns 13 and is cooking dinner giving mom the night off from cooking and cleaning because
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step”
– Old Chinese Proverb
So what about you? How do you celebrate the little things??