Did you ever stop to wonder how your own children are to be prepared for moving out into the real world?
In the raising of my 8 children, that thought never crossed my mind. I sure wish it had. I think as parents we assume they would just launch out and manage just fine.
There is a myth, a belief, that in order to be a good parent we must prevent and guard our kids from experiencing discomfort, struggle, challenges, mistakes and pain.
The real world deals out challenges in working and living alongside disagreeable people, disappointments, disloyalty in relationships, negotiating conflicts, bills, mortgages, loans, recovering from mistakes, financial security, major responsibility as parents and not to mention suffering and pain from illness, accidents, trauma and raising a family.
Can we really prepare our children for this?
Yes, with awareness and determination and guts. It takes guts to develop grit in our children. Do we have the guts?
Grit is resilience, the fortitude to withstand tough situations.
Grit is developed by disciplined behavior and actually experiencing tough situations.
So the question is:
How can our children grow to be tough if we do not demand disciplined behavior from them? How can our children grow to be tough if we prevent them from falling and getting bruised and if we dash in to soothe them when they do fall?
How can our children become tough when we protect or rescue them from a little teasing, punishment or consequences at school?
How can they withstand failing or learn to recover quickly from mistakes if we hover so closely that we prevent them from making mistakes?
How can they learn to work alongside difficult personalities and resolve conflicts with peers, siblings and teachers if we intervene when they are in a disagreement?
How can they develop a high pain tolerance if we put numbing cream on skin before they get their shots and let them drop out of sports that require effort and demanding training schedules?
We have gone overboard with protecting our children from necessary struggle and discomfort and pain. We have grown helicopter blades and are hovering over them to rescue them from the harsh realities of life….to their demise.
We can start by demanding they perform certain orderly tasks daily as this builds discipline, be it making up ones bed daily, being orderly with clothes, personal belongings such as shoes, bags, sports equipment, cleaning up after oneself when utilizing common areas, like the kitchen or family space. This is actually also a way to show respect for others. The good ol virtue of fortitude is instilled in this way. If you read my other posts you would have learnt that an easy nag free way to get children to do tedious routine tasks and responsibilities is by using the enforceable statements:
“ I will be happy to do__________________ for you when you____________”
and “ You are welcome to ___________ when you ______________________”
By the way, a gentle reminder that these only work if you mean what you say and say what you mean. If you use the first one you must stick to the statement that you will not perform whatever favor or task for the child you said you would not do when they have not done what you needed them to do.
Helping too much with projects, homework and studying is depriving them of strengthening that independence muscle of doing it on their own.
Taking forgotten books, lunch kits, school supplies etc to school for them is lessons in forgetting, subconsciously the child is thinking: “ Why should I remember to take my stuff? It’s ok mum or dad will bring it, I need not worry!”
Experiencing losing is such an important character builder, being a good sport, why would we deprive our children of this lesson and not insist they participate in sports day even though they will not win?
There is no doubt that challenging schoolwork, homework, lessons, training schedules and chores can be viewed as blessings to help develop grit in our kids. Let’s not shelter them from it.
PLEASE NOTE HOWEVER that the child who is clearly not keeping up with the curriculum is by no means to be placed in this category. When it comes to a developmental reading or learning delay, unreasonable academic demands can actually damage self-confidence and delay learning further. The child with special needs can actually thrive and grow resilience in the other ways through sports and off course chores.
Let’s form our children to be very employable or better yet who can run their own businesses. Put the helicopter blades to rest and be a consultant style parent. Love and Logic can help us greatly with this or keep tuned for my next post.