Feb 042015


We all want to comfort our children after they suffer any kind of failure or disappointment. It’s only natural.

Instead, they ask a simple question: “What happened?”

The question is asked kindly and respectfully, but the intention is clear: to help the child understand why she didn’t reach her goal. Where did she go wrong? Was she unprepared? Did she not work hard enough? Or is her talent simply in another area?

This kind of questioning may seem rather sophisticated for a young child, but will teach an important lesson: failure can be viewed as a springboard to improvement, not as a dead-end or a reason for self-pity.

Would most parents like to provide a disappointment-free life for their kids? Probably. But stop and think for a moment: Is that realistic? Do you know anyone who has not had to confront disappointment or failure? Given that reality, dont we do our kids a greater kindness when we support them in learning from disappointment than when we try to shield them from it entirely?

Parents who react to their children’s failures in this manner provide skills that will last a lifetime. In other words, they raise people who are able to recognize their own competence — and never give up!

Sep 032014



Torn front wheel of a bicycle after a crash wi...

Torn front wheel of a bicycle after a crash with a car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I was packing for a trip with the TV on in the background.  Instead of heading to bed early so I could be fresh for my trip, I stayed up to jot some thoughts about a  bike accident.

Were there flames, fatalities or drama?  On the surface there was nothing unusual about the incident.  Or so it seemed at first.  A young boy was riding his bike, hit a pothole, fell off and broke his wrist. He had a bike accident and his Mom is suing the city.

[Tweet “Were there flames, fatalities or drama?”]

When asked why the city should be held responsible she replied “Hellooooo.”  That was the entire comment.

Of course I feel for any child with a broken bone — it hurts. It’s unfortunate. And I understand parents feeling angry when children suffer: those feelings are normal and natural. And of course cities and towns should to their best to make necessary road repairs.

Kids fall off of bicycles and get hurt. It happens: neither riding a bike nor conquering gravity are particularly easy skills to master. But a broken wrist in not a fatality. Painful? Inconvenient? Scary? Sure — so are lots of opportunities for growth.

Intended or not, actions have consequences — even driving our bikes in unexpected directions.

Have you ever been frustrated by making repeated requests about basic chores or responsibilities?  Laundry that doesn’t make it to the hamper?  Book bags that don’t get cleaned out?  Toys that aren’t put away?

At that point some parents are able to let certain laundry go undone, permission slips unsigned and toys “‘go missing.”  It’s generally an effective way to stop nagging and help kids connect the dots between the request and the consequence of not following through.

However there parents who offer to serve detention for their kids and even one who drove the get-away car for her “baby’s” robbery…  sometimes parental love gets in the way of more rational thinking!

[Tweet “Sometimes parental love gets in the way of more rational thinking!”]



P.S.  I think extreme examples can be useful in checking our own decisions so  I’ve got a collection of old news articles here. They’ve sparked some lively conversations in parenting groups.  (And, please, if you’ve got one to add, send me the link!  I love this crazy collection.)






May 262014
 May 26, 2014  Comments Off on Once Upon a Skill Set