Yesterday, I began reviewing three hurdles students must jump in order to mature in a healthy way. Our cultures makes growing up hard, as kids are exposed to information far earlier than they are ready and get answers almost instantly. We looked at the hurdle of “speed” and how our fast-paced world disables them from developing patience. Today, let’s look at hurdle number two:
2. Hurdle Two: Convenience
Let’s face it. We love the conveniences of modern life: cell phones, ATMs, fast food restaurants, e-books, social media, frequent flyer miles and webinars. All these elements have made life both efficient and easy. I’ll admit it—I love to find ways to make my life a bit more effortless. I must also admit, however, that in doing so, I may slow down my own maturity. Depth comes when I must persevere; when things don’t come quick and easy. The struggle brings a work ethic, and a tenacity that may not surface any other way. The proverbial “free lunch” actually has a price: soft people who are ill-equipped for hard times. Middle class kids growing up today live in a time of great comfort and ease. No doubt they feel the stress of making good grades and doing well at soccer games or piano recitals, but many never know the experience of hard work or determination or follow-through on a project that takes a long time to finish and in which they may fail. People don’t grow when everything comes to them easily.
To overcome a dependence on convenience: We must teach students perseverance.
- Choose a project to collaborate on that requires effort and tenacity. Perhaps it’s climbing a mountain or biking a long-distance. Maybe it’s a science project you can work on together. Then, throughout the project, talk over the value of working hard and enduring unglamorous attempts at succeeding.
- Sometime this year—allow your student to fail at something. This is counter-intuitive, because most of us want our kids to “win” and succeed. When they fail, however, use it as a teachable moment and talk over the value of failure; of things being hard and how it makes success even sweeter in the future.
OK. Let me know your thoughts? What other ways can we help kids persevere?
(This post is an excerpt from my new book, Artificial Maturity, which will be released next year. Stay tuned.)