Teach your kid how to learn and grow during tough times in life – instead of shutting down. This 5 step method will help you guide your kid to develop a growth mindset specifically when things aren’t going their way.
While my husband and I always joke that we could set our two sons free in the wild and they will figure out how to survive, our middle daughter does not fall into the same category.
She has many other beautiful strengths, like fighting tooth and nail for things she believes in and not caring what other people think; however, coping with adversities in life doesn’t always come naturally to her.
Recent events made me realize that she needed a mindset intervention.
To keep a long story short, she worked really hard to practice and train for travel softball tryouts. She was thrilled when she made the team; however, she was instantly benched.
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She anxiously waited for her chance to prove herself and develop, but didn’t get the opportunity. She left the dugout that weekend apologizing to everyone who came to watch her inevitably warm the bench.
Her her head hung low and she shuffled her feet – like a little depressed Charlie Brown.
As her parent, I had to put my own thoughts aside and find a way to use moments like this to teach a valuable life lesson.
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We Grow When Times are Tough
Childhood stress and worrisome feelings are very common.
In fact, according to a recent poll, about one-fifth of children reported they worry a great deal.
I’m sure you have heard that a diamond is produced when a lump of coal is under heat and pressure for an extended period of time.
Many use this as an analogy for getting through difficult times.
The problem with this analogy is that stressful events alone won’t lead to resilience. In fact, we know that too much stress can lead to harm. The key is having the right tools and positive mindset to overcome these difficult times.
Related: How Kids Benefit from Failure
Instead of a the diamond analogy, think of resiliency as a growing tree. Real life is more dynamic than that of a lump of coal. There will always be tough times (less rain, a cold front, or a bigger tree nearby) mixed in with times of growth.
Related: Parenting Tips on Raising Critical Thinkers
With the right mindset adjustments, we can help our kids learn that significant growth happens when times are tough, life feels like it sucks, and things aren’t going our way.
In other words, we can help them develop a growth mindset with these 5 tools:
5 Ways to Help Kids Grow During Difficult Times
Researchers have found that the simple act of teaching kids about growth mindset can help them develop it.
These 5 lessons can help you guide your child through growth during difficult moments in life:
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1) Write Down What You Can Change versus Can’t Change
The first step in helping your child develop a growth mindset is to talk through what is in their control and what is out of their control.
Yes, my daughter’s coaches aren’t playing her in the softball game. While she has no direct control over her playing time she DOES have control over practicing harder afterwards to earn it and cheering on her team.
Help your child write out a list of the things that they can and can’t control during a specific challenging situation. Guide them to then cross out what they don’t have control over so that they can focus on what they can change.
Chase your goals with these Manifestation Journal Prompts.
2) Separate out Emotions from Logic
It’s only natural to attach strong emotions to challenges in life.
Suppressing those emotions only lead to confusion and resentment.
Instead, talk openly about both the feelings and the facts- but making sure to separate them.
First, talk about how they feel deep down. Lay all emotions on the table, and acknowledge how they feel. No emotion is ever wrong.
Afterwards, reason through what is most-likely actually going on.
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For our example, my daughter felt like her coach hated her or that she must have done something to disappoint everyone. In reality, her lack of playing time was mostly likely because her coach has not watched her play an actual game yet and is possibly judging her skill based on her being one of the younger players.
Focus on the facts when you talk about how to overcome these challenges.
Also Read: Printable Mindfulness Activities for Kids
3) Incorporate Family Values
When facing adversity, bringing in your own family principles and values is probably the most important step.
Does your family believe in never giving up? Or does your family believe that if something isn’t making you happy it is time to move on? Neither is wrong, but it depends on your family beliefs.
Here are 10 quotes that may inspire positive family values:
- “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.” — Margaret Thatcher
- “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” — Sam Ewing
- “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” —Tony Robbins
- “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” — Muhammad Ali
- “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” — Josh Billings
- “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
- “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” — Dale Carnegie
- “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” — Albert Einstein
- “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” —Mahatma Gandhi
- “Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
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4) Find the Good in the Struggle
Author Charles R Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
When things are tough, it can be hard to find the positive.
As a parent, you may have to help your child understand and see the big picture.
Maybe your child is having a difficult time making friends. Can you provide an example of a time when you had a hard time making friends — until you found your best friend?
Think of ways to put a positive spin on what they are dealing with.
Related: Learn how to teach kids about spirituality or bible verses on parenting.
5) Determine the Next Steps
Developing a future plan will help your child learn how to move forward see obstacles as bumps in the road- not a solid brick wall.
Try to help your child think of three simple, yet actionable steps.
For my daughter’s particular situation, we decided to:
- Practice an extra day each week
- Sign up for hitting lessons
- Watch college softball on tv
Looking for more Goal Setting Tips or Kids? Start here!
This FREE Printable Workbook will help you work through these 5 steps.
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Final Thoughts on Growing During Difficult Times
These 5 simple steps will help you raise resilient kids with a strong, growth mindset.
Remember to think of resiliency as a tree. We need to teach our kids to stand strong during hard times and remain calm until the sun comes back out again.
And the sun will come back out again. I promise.
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