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Raising Children to Change the World

I was once at a preschool observing one of the children that I work with. He was playing with 3 other boys at the sandpit.

In the middle of the sandpit, the boys had dug a large hole and a channel leading from the edge of the sandpit to the hole. They then started to pour water down the channel thinking the water would run from the channel down to the hole.

However, much to their surprise, it didn’t work.

The water kept getting absorbed the sand. So, in order to combat this, all the boys continued to make the channel deeper and wider. They tested it and again, the water got absorbed by the sand. And again, all the boys decided to continue to make the channel deeper and wider.

All the boys, that is, except the boy that I work with.

He stopped, looked around and found some pipes and started laying them down along the channel and into the hole. Now, do you think this was a better idea than following the other boys in continuing to dig the channel?

Of course. And it worked brilliantly!

It was that small moment which led me to realise the following:

“It is entirely possible for us as teachers, educators and parents to give all children the ability to fundamentally change the world.”

All it takes, is a simple shift in the way we view every problem our child face as they grow up.”

Challenges are opportunities for growth

The old way of solving your child’s problems

Scenario 1 – Running late

Picture this – you have a family gathering to get to and you are still at home and the party was supposed to start 10 minutes ago. You are trying to get everyone out the door and into the car however your child still hasn’t put on their shoes.

So what do you do? You put their shoes on for them.

That’s an extra 10 minutes you have saved. Awesome!

Scenario 2 – Dinner time

It is dinner time and you have had a long day at work. You start feeding your child instead of letting them feed themselves so that they don’t make a mess.

The message loving parents are unknowingly sending their children

It is these small seemingly insignificant moments that I want to highlight because on any given day, there are dozens of these moments.

But what are you telling your child every time you do something for them that they can do?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to do that. I or someone will do that for you. Or worse, you can’t do it so I will do it for you.

However, what happens when they don’t have access to you or anyone else? Things start to break down.

Your child is now on the backfoot (and you are too).

From powerless to empowered

On the flip side, if you take the extra time (and this takes lots of patience) to encourage them to work through challenges on their own, you are empowering them to solve problems on their own and to cope with frustration.

The message you are sharing is they can do things themselves.

Start doing this early and it becomes part of their personality. Once it becomes part of their personality, they are able to tackle problems on their own and without the fear of failure.

Resilience the recipe for our children to succeed

Having worked in the early intervention space for 9 years, not once have I heard anyone talk about building resilience in children with additional needs yet it underlies a vast majority of the problems faced by the children I see.

So what is resilience?

It is the ability to cope with frustration/stress and bounce back from adversity. If your child cries or whinges easily, there’s every chance that they are lacking in resilience.

When they are still young, this isn’t too much of a problem. But what happens when there is no support structure or safety net for them?

That’s when real problems start to develop.

And I’m not just talking about problems like not knowing how to tie shoelaces. I’m talking about problems that may appear in early teens or adulthood such as depression and anxiety.

How do we start to build up resilience now in their early formative years?

Here are 3 ways you can start doing with your child immediately:

1. The most important thing is to reframe the situation in your mind

Everytime you make a time-saving based decision, recognise that while you are saving time, it is one less opportunity for your child to practice or learn – one less opportunity your child can never get back.

2. Create challenging scenarios for your child throughout the day.

Set challenges which are at 90-105% of your child’s ability and guide your child through solving the problems. If you know that your child is able to do something or perhaps even looks like they are able to do it, let them do it.

3. Expose your child to challenging situations and not help them avoid it.

At the point at which your child is feeling challenged, help guide your child through solving the problem. If they are feeling sad, anxious or frustrated, acknowledge their emotions but don’t dwell too much on them.

Instead, redirect the focus onto how to solve the problem.

By taking a solution-oriented approach, you are teaching your child to look for solutions to overcome challenges.

To be clear, the goal isn’t on coming up with the right solution (although it helps) but it’s the skill of looking for solutions that we are looking to develop.

Developing solutions to solve existing problems are at the centre of all great ideas and inventions that have changed the world. It is also the hallmark of highly successful people regardless of how you choose to define successful.

If you are interested in learning about how we can support your child to develop their resilience and unlock their potential, get in touch with us by filling out our contact form.

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