7 Ways to Raise Strong Kids
Even the orphans in the iconic Broadway musical "Annie" knew it: it's a hard-knock life! Despite our best efforts to protect them, our kids will face struggles and adversity in life. So how can we best prepare them for the challenges that will certainly come? Consider these thoughts on bringing up kids that can handle the tough stuff:
1. Give them a foundation of faith.
Children who are confident in a set of core beliefs that don't change over time are better equipped to navigate an ever-changing world. Help them to develop a relationship with God and to learn that they can depend on him even in the toughest circumstances.
2. Let them take risks.
You may know that she'll never get the lead in the school play, or that he won't make the baseball team, but good parents let their kids get out there and live, knowing that it won't always go well. If you steer your child away from those experiences that you know probably won't be "successful," you rob them of the chance to learn first-hand how to handle disappointment and re-group for the next big thing.
3. Let them work for it.
Whatever it is they desire, make sure they are required to put forth a little effort and endure some type of sacrifice to get it. Whether it's giving up free time to earn extra money for a purchase, or putting in extra training to make the cross country team, work yields rewards. The sooner your children internalize this truth, the better equipped they'll be to overcome obstacles and achieve.
4. Share lessons from your own life.
Whether it's a challenge you had to overcome in school or your professional life, your own stories of rising to the occasion will be a source of inspiration for your kids. As they grow older, you may be able to share with them about struggles you're currently facing, and which life tools—like faith, hard work and optimism—are getting you through.
5. Don't let them wallow.
Sometimes people will treat your children unfairly, or things beyond their control will go wrong. Help them learn to cry it out or talk it out—and then move on. Continuing to re-live the slight will only serve to keep them trapped and helpless. Teach your kids to forgive, let it go, learn from it, and figure out another plan.
6. Don't let them play the victim.
We're all tempted at some time to draw attention away from our own shortcomings by putting the focus on how others contributed to your failure. Don't blame the teacher for making the test so hard. Instead, ask what you could have done to be better prepared. Don't blame the loss on a bad call by the referee. Instead, think about scoring opportunities that you didn't cash in on, and ways you can improve. It's all about perspective.
7. Celebrate the "victories."
The development of your kids' character and toughness will often take place in moments where things don't go as planned. It may take weeks, months or years for them to recognize how they grew and what they learned, but talk about it and celebrate those strides just like you do the obvious "wins."
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