5 Tips to help parents support children through life's trials - New York News

5 Tips to help parents support children through life's trials

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By: Wendy Jessen, FamilyShare

Everyone makes mistakes or otherwise stumbles as we learn to get around in life. As parents, it is our job to help our children when they fall down by encouraging them to get back up and try again, to right wrongs and to keep improving their lives. We can't live it for them, but we need to be a beacon of support.

Like a toddler learning to walk receives encouragement, so should we lift and support our children through other parts of their lives. Arguably, toddlers physically fall down more than most other people. They're learning to walk, run, jump and climb. With that, comes lots of falls, which mean bumps, bruises, and sometimes broken bones and stitches. As parents, despite how many times they trip and fall, we encourage them to get up and try again. As our children learn how to navigate life and it's pitfalls, we must be as supportive, or even more so than when they were toddlers.

Falling, getting back up and trying again strengthens us. Regardless of the situation - sports, academics, learning right from wrong or learning a new skill - we must realize that we can't be perfect the first time, or the second or even then third time we try something. Life is a learn-as-you-go experience. The idea is that when we, including children, make mistakes or misstep, that we learn from what happened and make better choices or do better the next time. As a result, we emerge stronger, wiser and better equipped to handle the next challenge. We must help our children to understand what happened and the better course to take the next time. The strength we gain from overcoming hard times is irreplaceable.

We should not rescue our children by being "helicopter parents." Though this is sometimes seen as "helping," it can actually be quite crippling to your child's development. If a child never learns how to solve 5-year-old problems, for example, they won't be adequately prepared to overcome 6-year-old problems. We have to let children suffer the natural consequences to the choices they make. However, we still encourage them to make wise choices and to think about possible outcomes of their actions. We can't follow them around the rest of their lives and they will eventually have to live life all by themselves. We can't clear the way for them, but we can hold the flashlight to light the way.

Start again tomorrow. Whether having a bad day, struggling in school, having personal trials or learning to become a better athlete, tomorrow is always a new day. Despite the difficulties of the day, focus on some positive ways to make the next day better. The future is unwritten and we can choose our attitude as we endure through our trials. Every new day has a clean slate which means we can start over tomorrow.

Parents can be a positive influence as well as a cheerleader for their children. A parent's job is to lead, guide and be a teacher for their children, as well as giving love unconditionally. Children are human, too, and will often make mistakes or not do as well as we think they ought to in some aspects of life. However, if we are showing love and offering advice and guidance where necessary, they will more likely be able to make it through the world's maze. Children need to know that we are their number one fans and that we love them no matter what. We can be examples while cheering them along and a soft place to land when it doesn't turn out the way they (or we) hoped.

Life is difficult, but we can be a natural support system for each other, especially our own children. When they inevitably fall down in life, we need to be the safe place for them to land. And, of course, help them stand back up on their own two feet and take off running again and again.


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Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

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