Real life includes struggle, failure, and pain. When should children have to handle these things?
For the most part, children learn and mature as life presents opportunities and children decide to take advantage of the opportunities. The events of life naturally include situations that have struggle, failure, and/or pain built in. The death of a pet, moving, and unfair treatment by peers are some examples. In each of these situations parents have to choose: Do I protect my child from this or do I allow my child to struggle with the complications and discomfort of the situation?
It’s so easy to say, and so hard to do: As much as possible, model, teach, and guide children through life’s challenges. Resist the urge to solve the problem, make it better, or soften the consequences. Generally, I consider the child’s age and maturity, then look inward to determine how greatly I am underestimating the capacity of the child to handle a given situation. I know I’ve softened the blows of life for my children too much, and I can’t remember many situations where I wish I had shielded them more.
WEST parents, you have an opportunity to walk through some real life struggle, pain, and failure with your child. Math class. Walk alongside your child as he or she struggles with homework and deadlines. Empathize with the pain and effort of learning algebra. Allow your child to fail a test, or fail to complete homework. In each situation, process the events and turn them into lessons.