Our students today are overwhelmed with information and skills training.  By the time a student enters first grade, they have been exposed to a plethora of digital information including video games, educational material, societal propaganda, and sports trivia.  As they progress through their early years of elementary school, many are enrolled in piano, dance, sporting activities, theater, scouts, etc., in addition to the academic training they are receiving at school.  Upon graduation, our students have acquired a large stockpile of information and skill-sets, some of which are transferable to the ‘real world’ and many that are not.

Older adults who have experienced their share of life’s ups and down will tell you that life can be difficult.  Dealing successfully with those difficulties requires grit, and, in spite of their busyness, many of our young people have not developed this critical skill set.

Grit can only be developed through hardship, and we as parents are ‘experts to a fault’ at ensuring that our students avoid any form of hardship.  We may have negative recollections of our struggles in our younger years, and our parental instincts tell us to move in and create a human shield between our children and those difficult situations.  Unfortunately, in the process, we are depriving the younger generation of a coping mechanism that may be the difference between thriving, and personal or professional collapse.

There are many opportunities to expose our students to healthy doses of adversity, which in turn will allow them to develop grit and perseverance.  One easy example is sporting activities.  Coaching your student’s sports team is great way to spend quality time together while working toward a common goal; however, it may not be helpful to coach and direct every sports experience that your child has.  Issues like limited playing time, not making the ‘A’ team, or being displaced by the coach’s child, even if they are, at times, unjust, provide our students (and our entire families) with ‘learning opportunities’.

Your child will learn, as most adults have learned, that life is not always fair, and we often do not control many aspects of life that are coming at us.  What we can control is how we respond to the negative.  Do we shut down and cower?  Do we scream victim status and demand to be heard?  Do we internalize the negative result and let that negativity determine our self-worth?  Or, do we swallow hard, sulk for a day or two, and then move on to the next opportunity that awaits us?  Or, even better, do we re-double our efforts in that activity and take another shot at it to prove our ability or value? (eg; Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordan).

A part-time job is also an excellent way to safely expose your student to a variety of challenging situations that will require resilience and mental toughness.  A job in customer service can sometimes be ‘unpleasant’ when dealing with a disgruntled or just plain angry customer.  From this experience, our students can develop the skill of diplomacy and can learn to remain confident and sure of themselves even when taking fire.  Working early in the morning, on a Saturday night, or in the hot summer sun teaches young people that doing what needs doing is not always pleasant or a first choice.  Over time, a sense of satisfaction and pride from working hard will replace the original feelings of laziness and self-doubt.

So the next time your student is battling the inevitable hardships that come with life, think twice before you swoop in and make everything all better.  Allow your student to work through the challenge and develop the strength that comes with that effort.  Then provide affirmation to assist them to realize and celebrate what they have accomplished.  Life is tough.  Make sure your students have the tools they will need to thrive.

By: Beth Voet

Strong Kids

Parenting Tricks and Tips from Life Tools Tutoring!

Today’s Tip: Strong Kids.

Life is tough. Although the specifics of the struggles vary from person to person, suffering, disappointment and loss are very much a part of the human condition. And as much as we, as parents, want to shield our children from those struggles throughout their lives, they will experience those challenges.

So, instead of investing huge amounts of time and resources in insulating our student from “real life”, our time would be better spent on forming strong students with strong characters. Here are a few suggestions that we have gathered from outstanding parents who have raised very strong children…

1. Let your student experience some of life’s disappointments. If he took third place in the tournament, celebrate with him, but don’t go buy him a trophy and pretend he won first place. Third place is great, and if he and his teammates work harder next year, they may just win first place.

2. Service. When we teach our students that the entire universe revolves around them, they come to expect everyone’s attention and constant assistance. Then, when it comes time for them to step out into the real world, life smacks them in nose. Bring them (don’t send them) on regular service opportunities where they can learn that the greatest fulfillment in life comes from giving to others.

3. Make them work. Chores around the house, a part-time job, or mowing lawn for grandma are just a few examples. Students that do not know how to work turn into adults who do not know how to work. Adults that do not know how to work will not reach their full potential and will have major regrets.

4. Discipline. If you haven’t already noticed, sometimes young people make bad choices. Use the safety of your home to give your student a small taste of how the world will punish them if they make bad choices as an adult. If they are late coming home, take away the car for a week. (If they are late to work on a regular basis, they will be fired). If they choose not to put their laundry in the basket, make them do their own laundry. (If they expect others to pick up after them, their marriage may not survive)

Strong kids will make strong adults who will move mountains. Start today!