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Helping them learn and grow from their difficulties

Posted by George Vlamakis on 19 January 2021

A parent's attitude to their child's difficulties will heavily determine how successfully the child will meet and overcome many of the obstacles and hurdles that will come their way.

Whether it is missing out on a sports team, frustrations with classmates or teachers, or having to do a task they find unpleasant, our students/children will experience difficulties they need to overcome.

When children overcome problems and deal with unpleasant situations, they learn they are capable. This is the basis of self-esteem and confidence.  Resilience is fostered when they overcome problems and manage unpleasant social situations such as teasing. If we over-protect our children from challenging experiences we rob them of chances to learn, develop and grow.

Resilient teens look back and draw on skills and understandings they have developed in the past to help then deal with present challenges. For example, I have had the experience of a 16 year old boy who revealed how his time on school camp, helped him overcome the homesickness he experienced on a six-month student exchange.

He remembered how on the first day of camp, he did not think he could make it but he did. He experienced those same doubts early in his exchange but he knew that just as he had coped before, he could do so again, but this time in more difficult circumstances. He was drawing on the same resources.

Here are five great parenting ideas to help your sons leapfrog the inevitable challenges that come up in life.

Frame the problem as a challenge
Frame the difficulty as a challenge rather than a problem. Framing it as a challenge, gives them something to rise to, rather than be overwhelmed.

Coach them to do well
Talk them through their challenges, giving them ideas to cope and manage. Consider rehearsing some skills or language that they may need.

Show confidence they will succeed
Make sure your expectations are realistic, positive and supportive of your their feelings

Give them a chance
Allow them to approach challenges in their own way without constantly checking on them. Your nervousness can be contagious.

Celebrate their success
Even if they were only partially successful, praise their efforts. Praise is a far greater influence than criticism.

The attitude and approach of parents and teachers will influence our children's ability to meet and overcome the hurdles they'll encounter.

An attitude that is affirming, supportive but not smothering, will resource your child to meet and overcome life's inevitable challenges.

Author:George Vlamakis
About: Student Counsellor, St James College East Bentleigh
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