Perhaps one of the hardest things to experience as a parent is watching your child not put in the effort needed to succeed. I’ve been through this many times: it pains me to see my kids slacking back when I know how capable they are. How can we, as parents, help our children understand the power of effort?
The truth is that our Opponent Voice provides us with constant excuses for not being successful. It is like a professional saboteur that tries to bring us down at every turn. I’ve found that we can overcome this Inner Voice by taking small steps: identifying exactly what is hard for us, becoming aware of what we are afraid of, and then setting realistic goals to move us past these obstacles. A great approach is asking: How can we find little ways to achieve more today than we did yesterday?
To help in this process, I’ve created an Interactive Family Exercise you can do together with your child to discover the power of effort. Start by creating a three-column table with the headings, as below:
It Is Hard for Me to…
My Inner Opponent Is Telling Me to…
The Steps I Will Take to Overcome…
Set aside some special, quiet time to fill out the chart with your child. Work together to identify what’s difficult for each of you and what’s preventing you from doing what you need to do. Then choose inspiring next steps to which you can hold each other accountable.
The key to the exercise’s success is your willingness to go through the identifying process openly with your children. Your kids cannot feel that they are the only ones who struggle. By being honest and open, you can show them that you are going through challenges every day, just like they are. You are also helping them gain valuable self-awareness that will serve them far into the future.
Keep the charts available for daily reference, reinforcement, and tweaking. Perhaps put it in your child’s room, or in a more public space like the kitchen where it can be discussed often. A reward system can be a great addition to mark the achievement of goals along the way.
Here are some additional tips to encourage effort in your children:
- Make a point to say something positive whenever they put
forth an effort (too often we only comment when they don’t).
- Share a personal challenge you’ve had, and show how making
the effort helped you overcome–and even benefit–from it.
- Praise the act of making an effort, not just the good results.
- Give lots of love and loads of patience. Your kids are a work in
progress. Your love helps them persevere.
There is no better gift you can give your child than the ability to face challenges bravely while providing them the tools to overcome them.