Willow was a friendly, brave and fun girl. She loved to climb really high! She was confident in making new friends! She loved going to the beach! However, Willow was different to her brother, she was scared of swimming!

Her brother Patrick would laugh and tease her, because she was afraid of going under water. He did not understand why she was so afraid because usually Willow was so brave. Patrick said, “Don’t be scared, you will be fine!”

“It is just too hard. I am no good at this. I cannot swim!” moaned Willow as she hopped out of the water and sat next to her mother.

“You can do it Willow! When I was your age, I couldn’t write my name and everyone else could. Luckily, I had a really nice teacher who told me that I could do it. She helped me everyday until I could write my name and now I love writing!” said her Mother.  

“I am going to be like her and keep supporting you until you can swim. Think about what mistakes you have been making and focus on fixing them. Look at this challenge as a fun opportunity.” said the caring parent.

“Alright Mum, I think I just keep opening my mouth and I swallow too much water and then I panic!” said Willow.

“Okay then, just concentrate on keeping your mouth shut when you dive in. You can do it Willow!” her Mother said in a supportive manner.

Encouraging her daughter she called out, “You can do it Willow! It’s going to take a lot of effort and hard work, but you just have to keep trying!”

“I can do it! I can do it!” yelled out Willow before taking a big breath, closing her mouth and then plunging underwater.

This time, instead of having to flap her feet around in a panic, Willow felt this amazing feeling like she was floating. All of a sudden, she was doing it! She was actually swimming!

She calmly popped her head above the surface and her Mum was yahooing and jumping up and down.

“Well done, Willow! You did it! All your persistence and hard work paid off. Instead of quitting when you felt like it was too hard, you kept trying and learnt from your mistakes. I am so proud of you!” gleamed her Mother.

When they got home, Willow’s Mother asked her, “What did you learn from this?”

“That sometimes I will find it difficult to do something, but that does not mean that I cannot do it. If I try and enjoy the challenge I know how great it feels if I succeed!” replied Willow.


1. What challenges did Willow face?

2. When have you faced similar challenges?

3. What can you do next time you have to overcome a challenging situation?

Key learning points

Key learning points

– We need to be careful with the language that we use when commenting on children’s fears and failures. When WIllow’s brother said, “Don’t be scared, you will be fine!”  He didn’t show an understanding for his sister’s genuine concerns. Willow was still learning how to swim and had a fear for the unknown. We need to show a genuine understanding of their fears, but continue to support them push through.

– Willow’s Mum stepped up and became her champion! If all kids have their own cheer squad it makes it that little bit easier to succeed when you don’t believe that you can.

– Try not to compare our children. We need to focus on individual progress. In life, everyone runs their own race.

– We need to let our kids fail. It’s going to hurt (probably you more than them), but it’s vital that they make mistakes, lose and fail. They need to build resilience and understand that sometimes, life just isn’t fair. We don’t just give up! We persist and learn from our mistakes. If they can learn that challenges are just a part of life and an opportunity for us to grow as people.