There are so many things we need to teach our kids to prepare them for a healthy, happy, productive life.
One philosopher thought endurance was the single most important life skill to teach our children:
“Endurance and to be able to endure is the first lesson a child should learn because it’s the one they will most need to know.”
—Jean Jacques Rousseau
Resilience, grit, stick-to-itiveness, whatever you want to call it, young people need to learn to persevere in the face of obstacles.
This is even a difficult trait for adults to master when we’re faced with continual frustration, like, say, getting our kids to behave. But in that instance, we don’t throw up our hands and give up; we keep at it, patiently, and calmly (most of the time), and we keep on trying.
This is a lesson that our children will need in every area of their lives, from school, to work, to family.
The Role Parents Play
Whatever the goal—an A in English, making the team, learning to play piano—make sure it’s something your child wants to accomplish, rather than your own desire for them.
Help them understand in advance the steps they’ll need to take to reach their goal and check in periodically to see how they’re doing.
If you sense there’s a problem when you do this—for instance the child doesn’t want to talk about it, or becomes surly or defensive when you ask how they did on the test—then you can probe further.
It’s tempting, of course, to try to intervene when our children are facing difficult obstacles. And sometimes it’s necessary to step in: if they’re in over their heads, for example.
But the best kind of guidance is talking them through challenging situations. We can ask them to define the problem, then help them brainstorm solutions. The most important lesson they need to learn is not to give up when the going gets hard.
It’s our role to help them understand that once they commit to something, no matter how difficult, they need to see it through.
Endurance is one of the topics in this month’s Family Table Time kit. Sign up now to receive your first kit and each week you’ll receive engaging Family Table Time materials specially designed to nurture communication and bring your family closer.
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