What our children find hard will differ to what we find hard. They struggle in math, numbers are your thing; they hate writing, you find using words easy; you love sport, and they are not interested; you can say no easily, they always want to say yes; you love being with people and they are shy. Each person in our family is unique – we will bring different personalities, quirks, habits and abilities to the family dynamic.
But how do we help our children when our strengths are their weaknesses?
7 Ways to Help our Kids in their Struggle
- Accept them. Anything that we say to help our children needs to come from a position of accepting them regardless of their struggles. Our love doesn’t come from them getting it right – our love just is. They need to know that.
- Find strategies. We can easily fall into the trap of thinking that our role is to ‘fix’ our kids, but really our role is to help our kids reach their full potential. We need to accept their differences, and yet help them find strategies when their weaknesses are going to impact their potential. Just this morning I spoke with one of my kids about their need to find strategies to help them be more organised. Forgetting things, being in a rush, losing things will be a distraction to their success. My encouragement needs to be because I want them to be successful, not because I find it irritating!
- Keep calm. Reacting when someone is struggling will never help anyone. We need to be careful to watch our tone and our body language. No sarcasm, frustration, impatience. Of course this is really hard – but it is very important. These expressions (either verbal or physical) communicate a lack of acceptance and can damage our relationship, and close a window to actually help and encourage our child.
- Keep the standard the same – the journey differs. Our standard is to love God and love others. How our kids get there will differ for each one. What one finds easy the other will find hard, and vice versa. We need to keep our eye on our objective – and then be creative, resourceful, flexible on how we teach and encourage our kids as they walk towards that.
- Listen and show empathy. When we find something easy, it is very hard to find empathy with the person who finds it hard. We need to stop thinking about the task or action, and start thinking about the person. Listen to their struggle, and show empathy. We may not understand, we may not agree, but we need to show compassion as they struggle. The opposite would be indifference; which tells the kids we don’t care about them, or we become legalistic and demanding regardless of where our child is at, we ignore their personal journey.
- Work as a team. Your spouse may have the answers, the experience, the empathy necessary in this situation. We need to parent as partners. Always keep each other up to date with the things you are struggling with – and allow them to step in to a situation you may have with a child.
- Pray. We need to pray before, during and after a struggle. When we know our children, we know their strengths and their weaknesses, we can be continually talking to God about these things. Not only can we pray for peace to fill our heart in regards to our child’s struggles, but we can ask for wisdom to know how to address it. Most of all we need to give thanks for our child – this alone can change our attitude towards them, and their struggles.
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One thing I’ve noticed over the years that to each weakness there is a corresponding strength. Someone may be so flexible that they appear unreliable or uncommitted (and we’d see that as a negative) but, it also means they are completely available to people (which is a positive). There are times when it is frustrating to see our kids struggle with something that is so easy to ourselves. But if we can find the positive, and focus on their strength then it helps us gain perspective. It is easy to lose perspective when all we see is the struggle.
When I get frustrated with my kids inability (apparently) to ‘get it’ I like pause and reflect on my own life. There are still things that I struggle with, my head can be full of useful strategies to help me overcome my weakness, but I still find some things hard to do. It is the same for my kids, so when I remember this about myself it becomes the basis of acceptance for my kids. I need to be gracious, helpful, kind when they struggle with stuff.
We are all unique individuals – all with our own strengths and our own weaknesses, and it is very likely that what our kids’ struggle with won’t be what we struggle with – but we can still be a support and encouragement to them. In fact, we need to be.
Over to you:
Do your kids struggle with things you find easy? How do you handle that? What tips have you learnt along the way?
Relationships First, A Homeschool Principle: Relationships first is a principle that has shaped our family – putting heart issues before any other to-do list.
What if they are Behind? The issue of ‘being behind’ needs to be settled in our heart – then we can find a place to accept our children and help them move forward.
What to do When you Don’t See Change Happening in your Kids: Though we don’t want to be results driven we do want to see our kids change. What can we do when we don’t see change happening in our kids?