What do you think of when you hear the word "struggle"? What kinds of emotions rise to the surface for you as you think about your child struggling? For most parents, this brings about feelings of anxiety and worry. We all want the best for our children, and we want to do anything that we can to protect them from danger, disappointment, sadness, and hurt. What we need to think about, though, is how "struggle" can actually help our children grow to be more confident, resilient, and ultimately more capable.
Jo Boaler, a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, talks about embracing struggle in her new book, Limitless Mind. When I see students who are afraid to volunteer an answer because they think they may be wrong, or I see a child's shoulders slump because he/she gets an assignment back that has several errors, I think to myself, "How can we help kids understand that these moments are actually opportunities?" Boaler says, "When you are struggling and making mistakes, those are the best times for your brain." In a recent article in the Stanford News, Boaler goes on to say, "When we embrace struggle, it's freeing. It changes how we go about our work. We're more persistent. We interact with each other differently. If you live just a single day with this perspective, you'll feel it – particularly if things go wrong. It changes those moments pretty significantly."
I encourage you to challenge yourself to embrace struggle both for yourself and your child. See how this simple shift in perspective can allow for opportunities to grow and learn in new ways.