How can we teach our children to face and overcome difficulties in our world? It might be a family death or break-up, it might be an injury causing disability or it might even be a birth defect which will affect that child for the rest of his/her life. It might be failure in an exam, or being dropped from a sports team. Whatever the difficulty, we need to give our children the tools to face difficulty with a positive outcome.
BOOSTING THE HUMAN SPIRITThere are a number of ways to boost and protect the human spirit.
- Speak encouraging rather than damning words.
- Create high expectations for your kids, but not so high they are impossible to reach and give up. Don't live out your own failed expectations on your children.
- Exercise a strong faith in your child's abilities, working out their strengths and helping them reach their potential, exposing them to all possibilities, and yes, even apparent impossibilities. Teach them that there is no such word as 'can't' even if a modification of the goal has to be made to achieve success.
- Be a positive role model by proving you can achieve things beyond your previously perceived capabilities, and when you don't meet your own expectations, doing it until you get it right.
- Celebrate successes and evaluate failures so improvements can be made. Teach them that it is not the win that is important so much as personal involvement and improvement. To say, "If you are not the winner then, you are a loser", is a VERY destructive thing to say to a child.
- Reading your kids stories about heroes or people who have done seemingly impossible things e.g. Dr. Glenn Cunningham who was so badly burnt as a child the doctor pronounced, in his hearing, that he would never walk again. In fact, his parents were being persuaded by the physician to have both his legs amputated. That made Glenn so determined to walk, so he pulled himself up on the back fence and, day after day, along with a new type of massage therapy for that time, made his legs strong enough to hold him up. Dr. Cunningham eventually won a gold medal in the 1938 Olympic Games and held a number of other running records. An impossible achievement? He didn't think so! Then there was Wilma Rudolf, a young crippled girl who overcame her disability by persistent practice and became a gold medalist Olympian.
NOT OVER-PROTECTING YOUR CHILD AGAINST NEGATIVE STUFF
- Avoid over-protecting your child so he/she never experiences disappointment. Everyone in the world is disappointed, devastated, hurt or deeply saddened by events at some time in their lives and they need to learn how to deal with it.
- Tell them it is OK to cry, that this situation would make anyone hurt, angry, sad or disappointed. Children need to learn that life is not fair and that stuff happens. We need to acknowledge their feelings and walk them through the situation. If it is too big for you, drawing from you parental experience, then get professional help.
- Kids need to learn to apologize if they contributed to a negative situation.
- It is important to protect your child's mind against negative/violent social media. The ones that win are not always the good guys and the means by which they succeed is not necessarily the way you want your kids to solve their problems.
- We often get asked this question. Why are my kids angels when they are at school, at church or at the neighbors, but turn into little monsters when they are at home? The first thing we say is, “Congratulations, you have taught your children how to behave when they are away from home.” However, this does not answer the question as to why they misbehave when they are at home.
The first point to make is that there are outside influences on them when they are out. Schools have clear expectations and structure. There is pressure from both teachers and other kids to abide by the rules. Kids may also be on their best behavior when they are out because parents are much more conscious of their kids’ behavior in other company and will correct them more quickly. The behavior may reflect on the family! Home is a place where feelings can safely be expressed, frustration is aired, people are forced to live in close quarters, and where brothers and sisters get on each other’s nerves and into each other’s stuff. Home is a place where it all hangs out.The question then is, should misbehavior be acceptable just because it is at home? Should families accept a chaotic, noisy household? If you could describe the ideal home environment, what would it be? I would want a positive, harmonious, productive and caring environment where we could all feel accepted and valued as individuals, while still being a close-knit family unit. I am sure every family would want that. It is not just a dream, but can easily become a reality for every family.Children will be well behaved in a structured environment with clear expectations, boundaries and consequences for negative behavior as well as for positive behavior. Structure, routine and consistency creates the security that kids need. It allows them to think positively, proactively and, therefore, productively. Productivity keeps them busy and promotes a sense of purpose.There is a raft of other reasons why kids misbehave at home. Parents may not be good role models at home. When there is stress between parents, the kids pick it up. Parents may frustrate the children by comparing or favoring one child over another. Children may not have enough physical activity at home to burn off excess energy. There may be no expectations of them at home to occupy themselves with creative activities. Such pursuits give them a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity for praise.Kids may not be given the attention they need by parents, both in quality and quantity time. Kids may be hungry because of unhealthy food and irregular meal times. They may be tired because no set bed times are in place, and too much television is watched or computer games played. The family often does not have in place the necessary values or principles that teach the importance of respect, loyalty, forgiveness, trust, honesty, obedience and integrity.You can achieve a peaceful home with happy, healthy children if you take an honest look at why your kids are misbehaving and make amends to meet these needs.
HEROES TO MENTION
- Corrie Ten Boom who turned her shocking prison experience into triumph when she forgave her attackers. She turned her negative experiences into positives all her life and survived.
- Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, yet she overcame her disabilities with the help of a wonderful friend who helped her to communicate despite her issues.
- Disabled Olympians who show their incredible skills in all fields of athletics.
- Sports women and men who have had limbs amputated, yet go back out there with prosthetic limbs and bravely carry on as if they are fully functioning.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families