Ministry of Education, Guyana

Teaching Kids to Overcome Something That Is Hard

The first thing a child may want to do when faced with a demanding project or situation is quit. Teaching kids how to overcome something that is hard means teaching them how to face adversity and challenges with a can-do attitude. Tried and true steps can be taken to assist your child in finishing that assignment or stepping up, literally, to the ball plate. When he succeeds, he will be rewarded for his time and effort, and he will have more confidence and motivation for subsequent challenges.

Teaching Basics
Teach your child work ethics by not doing the work for him but by being on hand to answer questions and provide feedback as requested. Don't hover, though. You want to give your child the feeling that you trust he can do things without your assistance. Guide him in the right direction, while encouraging him to come up with ideas on how to best accomplish the task.

By the Inch
Sometimes a child procrastinates on beginning a big project, whether for school or scouts, because it is a very difficult one or because it is not necessarily hard, but it is tedious and time consuming. As the old saying goes by the inch, it's a cinch; by the yard, it's hard. Teach him to break down the tasks into smaller pieces or time frames. This is important for all children and even more so for kids who suffer from attention deficit. Spending some time with nature, whether at the park or in the backyard, will make it easier for him to focus when he comes back to the task. Discuss with your child ways to manage the project encourage him to come up with ideas but offer your support and answer questions. Remind your child of past successes.

Little Engines and Big Rewards
Remind him of the childhood story "The Little Engine That Could" -- that plucky little engine kept plugging away until he came to his destination. It's a young child's book, but the message is suitable for any age. Encourage him to continue on when he feels like throwing in the towel. Reward him when he completes a large portion of the assignment. Celebrate a winning goal he made at a soccer game. Praise him when he finally learns how to ride that two-wheeler.

Be an example to your child when you have your own difficult and demanding tasks to perform or tough situations to deal with. Remain calm, organize yourself and collect your thoughts before beginning. Begin with a positive attitude and finish with a sense of a job well done. Your youngster will learn from your work ethic and performance.

Losing the Fear of Failure
As your child goes on to face more complex problems and tasks, the framework provided to him by parents who care will assist him for the rest of his life. Some of the same challenges he has now will reappear in his adult life in different forms.
Ask the children's librarian for help in finding inspirational biographies that are a good match for your child's interests and reading levels. Your child will learn from these stories, whether Walt Disney's or Babe Ruth's that the best efforts don't always lead straight to success.

"Behind every success story is an embarrassing first effort, a stumble, a setback or a radical change of direction," wrote Amy Crawford in an article published at Knowing how to continue on even when the going gets tough will help your child grow into a confident and responsible person who knows the value in stepping up to the plate. As the great Babe Ruth, who hit 714 home runs but struck out 1,300 times, once said, "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."


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