Almost 11 years ago, when Alana, our first child, was born I held her little, wet, squishy body in my arms for the first time and I said something to her. She was not yet a minute old and I told her something that was not true.
I said, “I’m going to be such a good mom that you won’t ever cry.” I saw her perfect self and I wanted to protect her from the world. I wanted to anticipate her every need, and steer her away from any disappointment or upset. I thought that “protection from everything” was “good parenting”.
Turns out, right after I told Alana that she wouldn’t ever cry—she cried. Yikes! I had to figure out another definition for “good parenting”. But even more importantly it took me years to figure out that crying and learning how to handle upsets were really important for raising resilient kids.
When babies and children cry and get comforted they learn how to soothe themselves. When children face a challenge and receive just the right amount of support they learn persistence. When kids are faced with disappointment, challenge, or failure and they get supported through it, they learn resilience.
It wasn’t until I started teaching that I really witnessed and understood how so much learning and growing happens when the children are being challenged (and sometimes those challenges include tears). Time and time again we’ve supported children struggling in our classroom and in our home. We’ve helped many children through uncomfortable situations so that they could ultimately experience success.
But how do you know when to step in? How much help do you offer? Is there a time when a challenge just too big?
These questions are tough to answer specifically, since so much depends on your personal situation and the ages of your children, but this video shows some principles of helping a child through a challenging situation that apply to any circumstance. It’s about a parent we coached through helping her son with a homework assignment. Hear what we said to her and see how it turned out.
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How does this situation relate to your life? What do you do to support your kids during a disappointment or challenge? How do you help them build their skills (academic or social emotional or life skills) AND help build your relationship with them at the same time?
May you and your children see challenges large or small as a chance to grow.
Cecilia and Jason