Our Kids Need To See Us Struggle

Seeing us struggle helps kids build perseverance and resilience.

As parents, we often try to hide difficult things from our children. In our children’s eyes, parents are good at everything; we are the experts, we are the fixers, we make everything better.

We often try to shelter our children and protect them. But studies show that it’s healthy for our children to see us experience a certain amount of adversity, difficulty, and frustration.

Basically, our children need to be able to see us struggle, get frustrated, and work through it. When we stick at it, we are modeling perseverance and resilience for our children to see.

The message they get is that sometimes things are difficult, but we do not give up just because something is difficult. We often experience difficult times at work, however, our children are not usually there to see it. So we need to make sure we let them see it at home.

An example of this happened last week when I took my daughter to the beach. I have a pop-up sun shade tent that requires a strange figure 8 maneuver to fold it up. For some reason that day the tent was refusing to close back up. I tried and I tried but I couldn’t get it to fold.

I was frustrated. My daughter could see I was having a difficult time. I told her “Mommy is frustrated. I can’t figure out how to fold the tent.”

This is where the modeling came into play. The tent was small and I could have easily carried it unfolded, but I refused to give up. I reminded myself that I needed to model struggling and persistence. So I kept trying for another 10 minutes and finally, I got it to fold up!

I said to my daughter “Look I did it, I’m glad I did not give up.” My daughter quickly replied, "You worked hard Mommy!"

Between you and me, if my daughter wasn’t there, I probably would have just carried the tent unfolded, but because she was watching, I made sure to not give up so that I could model perseverance and resilience.

It was a learning experience for both of us, and a reminder to me that little eyes are always watching. My hope is that next time my daughter encounters a challenge, she doesn’t give up. These are skills children can carry throughout their lives. Let’s set the foundation now!

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