Encouragement from a Super-Hero Sister

Sophie is the 7th child of 8, and the 4th daughter of our family, and she mistakenly believes she is the only one without any special talents.

“I can’t draw as well as Charlotte.”

“I can’t play the piano like Immy.”

“Callum and Immy and Charlotte can sing, and I can’t.”

“I can’t run as well as Gemma-Rose.”

She doesn’t see that she can do all these things, and will excel at them, like her siblings, if only she perseveres. She gets discouraged when she thinks she doesn’t measure up and gives up trying.

Most mornings of the week, the girls and I go running together along the bush tracks. Usually when we run as a pack, Charlotte and Gemma-Rose will be out there in front setting the pace. Sophie will be bringing up the rear. But yesterday I noticed something very interesting.

On our way down the main fire trail, Gemma-Rose stumbled over a loose rock and fell, grazing a hand and a knee. She shed a few tears and I decided to take her back to the ‘pits’, where we leave our water bottles. I told Charlotte and Sophie to go on without us. So they continued down the track, side-by-side.

Later when they reappeared, Sophie had a huge grin on her face. “As we were running along, Charlotte told me all about muscles and how they tear and heal and grow bigger with use. I like talking to Charlotte.”

Sophie ended up running further than normal, and she ran at her older sister’s faster pace. And she obviously enjoyed herself.

Today Gemma-Rose was back in front, and Sophie was lagging behind the pack again.

“I’m tired.”

“My knee hurts.”

“I feel sick in the stomach.”

It seemed Sophie had one problem after another that was preventing her from running well. 

“Do you want to go home?” I asked.

“Yes please.”

I almost took Sophie home, but instead said, “You could run with Charlotte.”

“Yes, run with me,” Charlotte encouraged. 

Sophie instantly forgot about her sick stomach and headed down the track, in the lead, for our final lap. Charlotte chatted to Sophie as they ran. Gemma-Rose and I stayed out of the way. And Sophie did a wonderful run. She had a huge grin on her face when we got back to the pits. She even looked like she was prepared to head out for another lap.

“Wow! Good work, team!” I said. “We worked hard today.” Sweat was dripping off us.  “Great run, Sophie! You ran up that hill fast. I couldn’t keep up. Are you glad you ran that final lap with us?”

Sophie nodded, that huge smile still on her face.

Tiredness, sore knees, sick stomachs? I think the real problem was discouragement and a lack of confidence. 

I thanked Charlotte for taking an interest in Sophie, for encouraging her along. “You’re her hero, you know.” Charlotte smiled but looked a bit doubtful.

Later, I took Sophie to town to buy her some new running shoes (and have some one-on-one time) and we chatted while I drove.

“A lot of people think you have to be tall to be beautiful,” said Sophie. “But that’s not true. Charlotte is my idea of a beautiful person.” (My third daughter is very much on the short side.) Yes, Charlotte is definitely Sophie’s hero. (Sophie doesn’t realise she is actually a very beautiful person herself.)

“It’s a pity it’s a rest day tomorrow,” sighs Sophie.

“You want to try out your new shoes?” I ask.
Sophie nods.

“I bet you’ll run like the wind in those shoes.”

I imagine Sophie flying along the track, out there in front, leading the pack. 

When a girl receives some encouragement from a mother… or a super-hero sister… she can achieve anything. Sophie is smiling. Perhaps she is starting to believe this too. 

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    • Kari
    • January 11, 2013

    How did I not read this before now? What a wonderful big sister Charlotte is. After hearing this story, she is my idea of a beautiful person too.

    It is so wonderful when our children help each other out and use their influence as siblings to build each other up. So often siblings can hurt each other and make each other feel bad. I know I fought and teased my siblings way too much– and they did the same to me. I am trying to teach my children to be kinder but I can see it is sometimes very hard for them. I would love to hear how you encourage kindness and mercy between your children.

    God Bless, Kari

    1. Reply

      Hi Kari!

      Thank you for commenting on my post. I was thinking it wasn't much of a story or very interesting, but I wanted to record that wonderful love Sophie has for Charlotte.

      Encouraging mercy and kindness? That is so difficult, Kari. I don't know if I do that well enough but I try to foster good relationships between them all.

      I think it helps that we are fairly isolated. My children really do depend on each other for friendship. They don't see outside friends very often at all. I don't tolerate any nastiness or bickering. Gentle teasing is fine but I hate it when they stir each other up deliberately in order to get everyone upset. I think our kids get enough of that from outside so the family should be a safe place, and I point this out to them. When things get bad, I announce a 'no talk zone' where no one is allowed to say anything for a short while. It clears the air. It makes them stop and think. They then know they have gone too far. After a few minutes they apologise and move on.

      Charlotte never used to help Sophie. In fact she used to get irritated by having a younger sister tagging along. My girls tend to split off into two groups – the two younger ones and the two older ones. Sophie tries to infiltrate the big girls' group! She is getting older and really wants to be included in the bigger girl stuff. I chat to Charlotte about such things and how special it is having a younger sister who admires her. It is actually a privilege to be loved in that way. I have gently pointed out how many skills she has that she could share with Sophie, how her example could help her younger sister… I've also made sure Sophie doesn't impose too much on Charlotte's free time.

      Encouraging children to work on things together always helps kids get on. The older ones teaching the younger ones something, or helping them with something they really want to do but need help with. I have noticed my children are doing this more and more without me making suggestions, which is wonderful.

      I think most siblings love each other fiercely, even if on the surface it doesn't always look that way. They just need to be reminded to show that love in actions and words. Maybe bickering, teasing , fighting… becomes the habitual way children treat each other. They don't think anything of it. But maybe new habits can be fostered if we take the time to nurture them and not tolerate the old. What do you think?

      Also different personalities find it hard to get along. Learning to be tolerant, accepting, finding common ground… Childhood really is an opportunity to learn some relationship skills!! I remember how the boys (who are very different) never got on. They really wanted their own rooms which was impossible. They have been sharing a room now for 21 years, so I guess they learnt to appreciate each other and make compromises! 21 years? Time they left home!!!

      God bless!

  1. Reply

    What a sweet sweet story 🙂

    I am glad I read this. When my children help each other it is one of the things that makes me happiest as a mother. Since we are all God's children, then I believe He is smiling above when we are helpful and kind too each other too!

    I hope your day is happy Sue <3 <3 <3 <3

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, it is sweet when siblings help each other… and it's so sad when the opposite happens and they spend their time bickering and refusing to get along.

      The other day Sophie and Gemma-Rose were feeling so unwell all they could do was lie in the sofa and groan. Charlotte decided to clean their bedroom for them. She did a very thorough job and the younger girls were so delighted to have all their mess sorted out. Now Sophie is looking after Charlotte, because unfortunately it's Charlotte's turn to be sick! But what happens when everyone is sick at the very same time? I hope you are all coping while you are unwell!

      My day is happy, thank you. I am an author of a newly published book which arrived in the mail this morning!

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