As soon as a child comes into the world, it’s every parent’s instinct to protect them from harm. The time that it takes to take care of them as a baby is extraordinary, then time goes by and they need less and less support for their daily lives. What if the parent remains protective though? What happens when parents want to shield their child from all the little harmful things that can happen during the course of pre-adolescence and even adolescence? Yes, the times have changed a little bit, but we need to understand the reasons why it’s ESSENTIAL for parents to put their kids in challenging situations. It’s not only essential to put them here, but also let them remain here for a period of time, even if that means failure in the end. In today’s blog post we put our focus on the modern child and why it’s important to take the reigns off of him/her for proper development.

Where does joy come from?

Have you ever been in a tough situation for a long period of time? Some things that come to mind for me would be playing the back up role on a team, being part of a losing team, or even struggling with a teacher at school. As a parent, it’s your job to put your child in places where they can succeed. Choosing a good school, placing them in the right sports, and making sure they have the right friends are all choices that parents make to aid their development. What happens when the choice that you made doesn’t feel good to the child though? We all know the image of the little boy clinging to his dad’s leg because he doesn’t want to go to school. What decision will you make next after the child starts to become uncomfortable in the situation that you put them in?

This is challenging because no parent wants to see their child in physical or emotional pain. Like we mentioned above, it’s the parent’s job to protect their child. With this said, it’s also their duty to let them experience adversity in small doses as well. This “pain” is actually a great thing! For children, their brains are developing at extraordinary rates and since they haven’t experienced a feeling of discomfort, of course they are going to run away from it! We have talked about this numerous times in our podcast episodes, but children need these small doses of discomfort in order to build resiliency for larger obstacles that they will inevitably face down the road. Nearly every single QB will experience injury at some point. They will also experience the feeling of losing. They will also get broken up with by a girl. (Numerous times) This is all part of the cycle of life. If you rob them of those small doses of being uncomfortable, then they will not emotionally be able to handle bigger crises when they come their way.

When have you been the happiest in your life? For me, it’s always been after accomplishing something great. But this great accomplishment that I had achieved was already prefaced by hardship and discomfort. Human beings are wired to be lazy creatures. We find a way to do the least amount possible to accomplish a task. We never want to work out, but we feel so good after we do it. We all hope to win the lottery, but when we do it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. We often envy other people’s success and wish it was our own, but if we got that success right away then we wouldn’t be fulfilled. Why is that? Well, it’s because there’s no pain and discomfort attached with that! The best things in life and the things that make you the happiest are things that you have to strive for and work for. Our conscience tells us that we don’t deserve things if they are handed to us, but if we have to work for something, then it’s that much sweeter in the end. An guess what? There’s still satisfaction in failing after working hard towards a goal for a long time. There’s more satisfaction in failing after working hard towards a goal, versus accomplishing the goal and not having to work very hard for it.

Go back and read the previous sentence over and over and over. By taking your kids out of hard situations you are actually stealing their joy away from them. This is how we are wired as human beings. Let them struggle. Let them grind. They will have tough days, but in the end, win or lose, they will be extremely fulfilled.

Discipline Comes From Consistency

How many of you out there have a hard time trying to make your kids go to practice when it’s hot outside? I can imagine that 100% of you reading this right now have had this problem at some point. No one wants to do things when they are hard. Once again, this is the lazy human being inside of us telling us to be comfortable. The only problem with this is that success doesn’t come from mediocre habits. This is a huge epidemic right now in our country. Life has become extremely comfortable! We have air conditioning, cars to drive us places, phone apps to bring us food, and even Alexa to turn the television on and off for us. This is so detrimental for our youth though!

One thing I’m grateful for is that my parents always taught me to show up. No matter what, you show up. If it’s hot, if you’re sick, if you’re tired, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you learn how to show up. I hated this so much at first. I hated getting up in the morning for workouts. I hated going to practices all the time and staying after to get some more throws in. This is what great athletes do. Even more importantly, this is what great employees do. They learn to show up, even when they don’t want to. This is how discipline is built. It’s built through being unbelievably consistent in everything you do. It’s not just showing up when you want to.

Rome Wasn’t Build In A Day

I always love to hear someone say that an athlete has great work ethic. Work ethic is one of the best traits any person can have, whether it be in sport or anything else. I’m fascinated by motivators that drive people to make the decisions that they do. If we are innately lazy by human nature, where does this relentless drive and pursuit of excellence come from. Why is Tom Brady the way he is? Why did Reggie Miller shoot 500 free throws after every practice? Why was Jalen Hurts in the weight room working out 1 hour after his game against Texas Tech this past Saturday? It’s because they have a desire to be great. Where does this desire come from though? Many would say it’s because they have a great desire to win. I would argue that. I would say that they have more of a passion to not lose, versus a desire to win. Through loss come feelings of disappointment. No one likes disappointment. They also know that if they can pick themselves up after loss, then that gives them another chance to win. This constant cycle of winning and losing builds a desire within to be great.

Work ethic is developed over years. It’s the combination of coaches and mentors leading/pushing, showing up time after time, and then understanding that skill acquisition is a process of trial and error. What if you take this away though parents? What if you take away the first building block of developing work ethic parents? You will most definitely strip them of being able to develop work ethic over time. Don’t let moments of uneasiness coax you into taking them away from situations that are needed to help them grow for a lifetime!

 

Be the Support System

I always love to hear someone say that an athlete has great work ethic. Work ethic is one of the best traits any person can have, whether it be in sport or anything else. I’m fascinated by motivators that drive people to make the decisions that they do. If we are innately lazy by human nature, where does this relentless drive and pursuit of excellence come from. Why is Tom Brady the way he is? Why did Reggie Miller shoot 500 free throws after every practice? Why was Jalen Hurts in the weight room working out 1 hour after his game against Texas Tech this past Saturday? It’s because they have a desire to be great. Where does this desire come from though? Many would say it’s because they have a great desire to win. I would argue that. I would say that they have more of a passion to not lose, versus a desire to win. Through loss come feelings of disappointment. No one likes disappointment. They also know that if they can pick themselves up after loss, then that gives them another chance to win. This constant cycle of winning and losing builds a desire within to be great.

Work ethic is developed over years. It’s the combination of coaches and mentors leading/pushing, showing up time after time, and then understanding that skill acquisition is a process of trial and error. What if you take this away though parents? What if you take away the first building block of developing work ethic parents? You will most definitely strip them of being able to develop work ethic over time. Don’t let moments of uneasiness coax you into taking them away from situations that are needed to help them grow for a lifetime!

So what now??

I’m not a parent yet, so I don’t know how challenging it’s going to be. With that said, I want my children to experience life early so they can handle the demands of getting knocked down later. I hope my kids scratch up their knees, I hope they get punched in the mouth on the playground, and I hope they lose a lot in their sporting events. Well, not a lot, but enough so they can learn!! There’s no such thing as a participatory trophy in life. The reward for failure is an inner desire to analyze the feeling of defeat, figure out how to get back on your feet, and then eventually try again!

-Drew Kiel PT, DPT, CSCS