Setting Your Kids Up for Success
Resilience, diligence, and a hard work ethic all come from experience.
Kids need to experience struggle and fatigue so they can feel the sweetness of success. This process is how we awaken self-motivation and initiative in them!
We must also recognize those opportunities for what they are: a very hard time in your child’s life. It is our job to really support our kids and give them the tools they need to overcome these challenges.
As an adult, it’s your job to remain and patient, letting your child lead. Even if it's not how you would do it.
Age, Ability, Interests, and Practical Concerns
How much I let my kids struggle depends on their age, abilities, interests, and practical concerns. Of course, I don’t let my 2-year-old take 30 minutes to try to buckle herself in the car. Nor do I force my 5-year-old to struggle with something that he doesn’t find interesting.
I am selective in which ways they struggle. I let my teen struggle more because he understands more. I let my younger ones struggle with conflict resolution. I don’t solve their problems. I help them find solutions until they agree on one.
For example, I do let my kids struggle to put on their own clothes or shoes when time allows. I let my preschoolers struggle to use the mouse on the computer. I let my teen struggle when he doesn’t want to do the dishes.
Different Struggles Build Different Confidences
Like I mentioned earlier, I let my younger kids struggle with conflict resolution. I want them to experience and practice dealing with conflict so that one day, I won’t need to play referee anymore. I want them to have the experience to play with anyone they meet.
To put it shortly, I want them to feel confident in their ability to interact.
I let my teen struggle with habits of work ethic. For instance, if he tries to just fill the dishwasher halfway up and leave the rest for tomorrow, I make him do two loads of dishes. Or if he doesn’t put away his laundry, it sits on the floor. Then he has to deal with the problem of not having any clean clothes. These are daily habits that he needs to learn to keep a clean home when he is an adult. I want him to know he can do those things (and the value of them) before he needs to use them.
Academically, letting kids struggle and find their own solutions will help them become excellent problem solvers because they will learn to find creative solutions.
Main Areas to Build Confidence
These are the areas I make sure to let my kids struggle in:
Examples: climbing, running, balancing, sneaking.
Definition: Finishing a job while keeping a steady stream of effort, over a long period of time.
Examples: Perseverance in math, study skills, using Socratic questions to help them find answers to their questions instead of just answering the question.
Examples: Letting them feel their emotions while just naming them to encourage emotional intelligence; not distracting or trying to manipulate their emotions.
Examples: Letting my kids have sincere interactions including negative ones, not ending arguments but helping to find a safe compromise.
Letting your kids struggle can be hard, but it gives them the tools to live a life with confidence and self-motivation. Those gifts are the true point of character training, whether you are talking about doing good audaciously or pertaining to habits that help us all live our best lives.