One paragraph that really resonated with me was:
“But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle.”
I’ll admit, it can be really hard at times to watch your kids struggle. It is so easy to swoop in and save the day. (Plus it saves a lot of time)
But this is a critical part of their development.
Learning to pull her own pants up was a real battle for Miss 4. She found it difficult, particularly given her issues around motor skills and executive function.
Watching her struggle and hearing her beg me to do it for her was tough….but a necessary part of her feeling successful once she mastered the skill (well, maybe mastered is a strong term for where she’s at with it now, but she CAN do it by herself!)
You see, the thing is…
We can’t do the work for them
As Robert Greene says: “When it comes to mastering a skill, time is the magic ingredient.”
And as a parent, as tough as that might be to watch, we need to give them time.
We need to give them the freedom to undertake the process their own way and learn from it.
And by giving them the opportunity to do this when they are little and the struggles they face are little, we are setting them up to be skilled at overcoming the problems they will face when the stakes are higher.
Reading through the article I was also reminded of a conversation I had recently with a great friend of mine about her two kids and the different attitudes they have towards problems they encounter.
One child has always struggled and had to put the work in, while the other child has almost always had things come easily to them.
We wondered was this experience part of what determined how they now faced struggles? Or was this just a part of their different personality traits? Or was it the way that they were praised. (The child who has always struggled was praised on effort, particularly that they were not always capable of achieving the result.)
As we were chatting I told her about a book that I found interesting to read – How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.
If you haven’t read it, the overall premise is that what we have traditionally viewed as indicators of success, cognitive ability and intelligence, is not as important as the intangible skills of persistence, curiosity, delayed gratification, grit, self-confidence and character.
It ties in very well with the work of Carol Dweck, and her book Mindset, where she outlines the difference between a Fixed and Growth Mindset, and how those with a Growth Mindset go on to be more successful.
When things come easily to a child, or when their parents remove any obstacle that’s in their way, they develop a false sense of confidence. There is no foundation upon which to base their success.
However, when a child is faced with struggles, but is lovingly supported and encouraged to find a solution, that is the basis for self-confidence and allows them to feel empowered.
So, what I’m saying is, it’s important for kids to struggle.
It’s important to have confidence in them so that they can take time, master skills and be reassured that they will be able to tackle any future problems head on with an understanding of what is required to overcome adversity.
By removing roadblocks for your child, you are essentially telling them that you do not trust in their ability to deal with these challenges or struggles.
By removing roadblocks you are undermining their self-confidence.
Instead, take a deep breath, recognise this as an important opportunity for them to practise the skills that breed character. Lovingly hold their hand and guide them. But DO NOT rob them of the opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed in life.