Embrace the Struggle, Don’t Run From It

By Cory Hanson

A boy in a cape reaching for the sky

One day, every child will experience what life is like living on their own, or without parents taking care of them. It can be hard to not be your child’s safety net as they grow. We don’t want to see kids scrape their knees, fail a school project, get their heart broken or struggle with conflicts at work or in the classroom. But struggle and failure is a part of growing up, a part of life in general.

When we help our kids understand that it is normal to struggle and teach them to persevere in working through their struggles, rather than “fix it” or chastise or punish them, we help them build confidence and prepare them for the next challenge life throws their way.

It’s easy to get lost in struggle. It’s easy to become disappointed and frustrated…to point fingers…to give up. What’s not so easy is working through the struggle and coming out on the other end to see that not all is lost. This is what we must teach our children. We must teach them struggling, and indeed failing, is just another way of learning.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind the next time your child struggles.

  • Concentrate on the positives – I’ve seen kids get frustrated and angry with a test that comes back 95% correct. They are unhappy with themselves and often get discouraged. That test has 95 things to congratulate and 5 things to improve on, get to congratulating!
  • Focus on improvement – minor improvement should be acknowledged and praised. Celebrate winning small battles while keeping an eye on the final goal.
  • Use Sports and Video Games to relate to real-life – Great basketball players miss half of their shots, great batters fail 7 out of 10 times, I rarely win a round of Fortnite (I don’t want to hear how great you are in the comments!)

Over the past 5 years, many kids lacking in self-confidence and positive self-image have walked into my classroom. Their lack of self-worth manifests itself in poor school performance, questionable social decisions, negative outlooks on the future, and a tremendous amount of self-sabotage. It is all of our responsibility, but especially your responsibility as parents and family members, to build our kids up and give them the love, care and support they need to grow into confident, capable adults.

Parents, as a teacher, there is nothing I want more than seeing your child succeed and find happiness, but I need you to be a bigger part of the equation and in turn, part of the solution.

Please comment below with any tried and true methods you have used in your journey in supporting your children at home or at school!

Please check out Part One and Part Two of this series.

The author is a father, Milwaukee Public School graduate, and educator within the public school system. He is an advocate of Tech in the Classroom and finding innovative ways to reach today’s youth.


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