Difficulties are a part of everyday life, and your children are not exempted from them. At a young age, kids are exposed to situations that some handle well and others have a tough time with. Your child could be experiencing difficulties in certain aspects of his/her lives, like making new friends, how they’re doing in a particular subject, or dealing with teasing or even bullying.
As a parent, your first instinct would be to shield your kid from all these difficulties, to the point where you have to take up the cudgels for the child with any challenge that he/she faces. However, you won’t be doing your child any favours if you do this. The resilience of a child is developed when they overcome problems and effectively manage teasing, bullying or any unpleasant social situations all by themselves. You will be essentially robbing them of the chance to learn, develop and grow from these experiences if you insist on protecting them all the time.
The best that you can do is give them guidance which will help them overcome difficulties. Here are some parenting ideas that could help you do just that.
Not a difficulty, but a challenge
Impress upon your child that whatever difficulty he/she is facing, he/she must see it as a challenge to rise to. If your child sees it as a difficulty, he/she could be overwhelmed by it instead.
Give them some coaching
If your family was a sports team, your children are the players and you are the coach. When—or even before—challenges come, it would be great if you can talk to them from time to time and provide them ideas on how to cope with and handle any adversity that comes their way. If using your coping and managing ideas involves certain skills or language, you can actually get your child to rehearse them with you.
It’s extremely important to make sure that whatever your expectations of your child, they should all be realistic and positive. More than anything else, they should also be supportive of their feelings. If you realise that your child is striving after unrealistic goals, take your child aside and help him/her set objectives that are more reasonable.
Allow chances for learning from mistakes
If adults can make mistakes, how much more children who still have so much more to learn? Children, like their parents, are bound to make mistakes or bad choices. It’s important for parents to allow for natural consequences of those mistakes and give children the time and space to learn from them.
Do not diminish their feelings
So your child comes home and tells you his/her woes in school. Listen, empathize, but you should never tell them that what happened to him/her is “not a big deal” or worse, “nothing to be upset about” as it breeds resentment in your child, and makes overcoming that difficulty even more difficult. To help your child deal with that challenge without us having to swoop in, it’s better that we strike a balance between honouring and empathizing with those feelings.
Praise the effort, not their abilities
When your child passes a test in a subject he/she find tough, successfully makes friends or makes it through summer camp, they are going to need a pat on the back. Give him/her appropriate praise, but it’s important that you praise the effort and not their abilities. Studies have shown that when your praise the effort of children, they become more open to taking on challenges and boost their confidence that they could improve themselves by working hard.
Make use of these strategies on your child, and you’ll help them turn adversity into learning situations. More than anything else, you can help your child develop determination, persistence and problem-solving skills they are going to need all their life.