Today I’d like to talk about tough situations, struggles, failures, and the importance of following through in a way that promotes growth in children. When things get tough for our kids the two most common ways parents handle these situations is to either swoop in and be the hero or to leave them to “figure” it out. This could mean doing their homework for them, not pushing them to get back up on that horse, or allowing them to quit a sport/activity that they love simply because they have hit a roadblock. The issue is that in most cases both of these choices rob our kids of the chance to learn, overcome, and become a stronger individual. So how can we “parent” our way through a tough situation to help our kids become the best versions of themselves?
Here are a few ways we can develop a “stick-to-it” attitude:
Be consistent when talking with your kids about roadblocks or plateaus. Skill does not come naturally and just because you are not naturally talented at something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Skill in the majority of cases is something developed from countless hours of practice, so if they stick with it, they will eventually succeed. Learning to push through the discomfort to “get it done” is a normal part of the learning process. You will be stronger and more resilient once you are used to it.
Use questions to help find a solution
Resist the urge to give them the answer. Play the coach in situations where you know the right answer and they don’t. Ask them questions that will guide their thoughts in the correct direction to help them learn how to “think it through”. An easy way to help guide them is to break the solution into steps and help them figure out how each step contributes to the solution. Remember, only tell them the answer if they are really unsure. Afterward, be sure to help them understand why and how you came to that answer.
Share your experiences
This is an easy one to overlook, but we all know kids learn from the adults in their lives! So share an experience where you failed. Or maybe one where you had a really hard time with something but were able to overcome. We need to help them realize that success almost never happens on the first try. There will be times when you are frustrated or bored out of your mind. This is simply part of the journey, and having a role model will help them develop motivation that will last for ages.
Be their rock
Set your expectations for them. At first, you may need to set clear practice times, define a quiet space, and give them reminders when they forget. There may be some initial complaining but as they begin to see the rewards they should decrease. Lastly, model the qualities you want from them when they are frustrated, bored, or defeated. The goal is to allow them to be with their feelings but to be resilient enough to realize that success comes from failure. Model the calm and determination you would like them to have when they bounce back!