The First Step is the Hardest

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Motivate Children to Try Something New

To continue the discussion of motivating children, Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills says that taking a first step, the first time doing something is the hardest.

She says, “There is a method and discipline in motivation that can be built from tiny, beginning steps.” She recommends the activity below to “encourage children and imbue them with the staying power it takes to remain motivated.”
The old Chinese saying is true: “The longest journey starts with a single step.” The first step in doing something can be the hardest.

We need to get children used to taking those all-important first steps. They need to recognize a first step. One way is to tell them about our own first steps: the first date, the first job. If you can remember it, describe your own first day in school, or any first you feel you can tell children about. You need not have been a first-time success. It may be even better if you weren’t. The point is that you tried and then tried again.
Ask children to tell you about any first times they remember. I might be the first day of school, the first time they rode a bike, the first time they tried to ride a bike or swim in a pool.
First steps are hard. We tend to say, “Aw, come on, that’s easy,” but it’s not.

Our goal in helping to motivate children is to help them gain the optimism and the courage to take more first steps. That is the lesson we have to teach, and one way to teach it is by sharing our experiences.
Be sure to visit Dorothy Rich’s great web site with great books and resources for working with children by clicking here.

How have you helped ease a child who was scared to try something new for the first time?


  1. We are about to transition the toddler to a big boy bed. We are going to make a party of it and take photos. His sister fell out of her big girl bed the first time she slept in the bed instead of the crib. But, despite his being worried I think hearing our stories is helping and the positive reinforcement is encouraging him to do better.

  2. This is true of adults as well. Children have a lot of firsts and we really should have empahty and help them through difficult transitions. We nannies are vital for children in this way. I am not sure about all nannies but I certainly am the one taking kids to their first day of school, first dance lesson, first soccer tryout, first dentist appointment, first to make a playdate with a new student in the class and more. I would love more parental support in these areas because children are emotional and some first activities are hard. One of my charges cried before school nearly everyday. I wish parents could have seen it and helped.

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