I spoke with my grandson recently and asked him how he liked second grade. He said, “Pretty good. It’s getting harder, but it seems like I can do it.”
They use the Accelerated Reader Program (fantastic program) and he’s reading a book at the 4.5 grade level. He said his teacher told the class that reading “bigger books” is a lot like riding a bike uphill. It gets a little hard but then you get to the top of the hill and coming down the other side is easy. My grandson has found that to be true.
I was blown away by the wisdom of this teacher. What a great way to relate the importance of trying to kids this age. Recent studies have shown that an essential ingredient to success is to keep working hard when it gets difficult. Too many give up at that point. Instead we need to teach kids to keep up their efforts to make it “to the top of the hill.”
Even smart kids and adults have difficult situations. Often it’s not pleasant. What’s needed is “grit” as it’s been described by researchers.
No one wants hard times, but when they come we want to have what it takes to handle them. Even if you are financially well off, think about how you can help your kids face tough times that could come in their lives. I’m not saying to make life hard for them but to arrange for some challenges for them. Give them that image of themselves as problem solvers and someone who does not give up. You could be giving them skills and attitudes that will make all the difference in their lives.
Feel free to use the bicycle story. Tell them stories of times when you (or others) faced a challenge and how you worked hard to overcome the problem. For younger kids you could even make up fairy tales with these kind of themes.
Playing team sports can help with this concept: don’t give up just because your team is currently losing. Even after a losing game lessons can be learned–the important thing was they didn’t stop trying, etc. Just don’t get crazy with criticism like some parents do. That’s going to cause the child to reject everything you say. You don’t want to be one of those intense parents who turn it all into a negative experience.
Give your children the gift of being able to handle life. That along with your love is a precious legacy.