When parents protect their children from experiencing hard things in their lives, they are setting them up for failure. Life is full of hard things and the sooner your children learn to face this reality and deal with it head on, the sooner they will experience success and fulfilment.
Finish what you start
What are some of the hard things you can help your children experience? For one, many children begin an activity they begged to be part of only to find out it's "just too hard" and beg to get out of it.
For example, let's say your young son signed up for a basketball camp. He has watched basketball players on the court and envied their ability to do remarkable plays. He wants to be like them, and convinces you to let him attend this camp. In his mind he sees himself becoming a future basketball hero. The surprising thing is, he didn't know it would be so hard. The rigorous exercises and practices nearly do him in. He wants to go home.
You feel sorry for him. You had hoped he would enjoy it, but instead he's not liking it at all. "It's too hard," he says on the phone, asking you to come and get him. You are tempted to run to the rescue of your little darling. Stop! Listen to his complaints then tell him he is not allowed to quit. He must see it through to the end of the camp. If he decides at that point that basketball is not for him, he can choose another direction next time.
Kindly help your children see that finishing is important. Help them understand that learning how to do hard things will prepare them to successfully deal with hard things they will face as adults.
When our son was a junior high student, he was struggling with his science teacher. After a few weeks he came home from school and said, "He's the worst teacher I ever had. I hate that class. Please get me out of it."
We went to back-to-school night shortly after that and met this science teacher as he explained the course of study to the parents. We had to agree that he was more like a walking cadaver than the exciting, animated teacher we hoped our son would have. However, we could see he knew his subject well. We knew that if we insisted on our son changing teachers, it would be the beginning of more of the same. We instead validated our son's feelings about the teacher and said, "He may not be the best teacher you ever had, but he is your teacher and he knows his stuff. So stick with it and do the best you can. You'll be glad you did." He made it through the class and as it turned out, science became one of his best subjects.
There is wisdom in this comment by the inspiring educator, Neal A. Maxwell. "Those who do too much for their children will soon find they can do nothing with their children. So many children have been so much done for they are almost done in."
Show your kids examples
It helps kids to see others achieving at what may seem like impossible odds. Begin by sharing with them stories from your own life where you had to work hard to achieve a goal. Tell them the stories of their grandparents and others who had to do things that seemed almost too hard to do. Even invite others you know who have struggled against challenges to share their story with your kids.
Show your family this inspiring video of Richie Parker, the boy born without arms. This type of determination and tenacity can't help but motivate them to overcome their own difficulties. One of the most important messages in this video is for parents. Watch what these parents did to help their son succeed in life.
A family motto
Lovingly encouraging, at times insisting, that your children stick with it and plow through their own difficult challenges can prepare them for life, which will be filled with hard things. Help them realize they can do it. We know of a family whose motto is, "We can do hard things." It's impressive what this family has been able to accomplish. Your family can do likewise.