Helping Your Children Overcome Their Challenges

Helping Your Children Overcome Their Challenges

I heard myself say “You need to use a red pen and a green pen.”

Surprised. Yes, I was.

At recent conventions for parents who homeschool their children, I mentioned the importance of knowing children’s strengths in almost every talk. I just had never said it in this way – use a green pen. I might have laughed out loud.

Parents have a responsibility to help children overcome their challenges. Notice I did not say that they have a responsibility to point out their challenges. That comes with the territory of parenting and teaching I suppose. It’s the overcoming part that’s essential.

This starts with the red pen.

Children do need to know their challenges or weaknesses. When they don’t, they won’t know what needs to improve. They won’t know what to work on and where to put forth effort. And, they won’t know how they might hurt others.

How are challenges overcome? What do children need to know so they can improve? Think about yourself for a moment. How do you strengthen your weaknesses? When are you most successful?

Do you agree with me that our strengths matter? We’re most efficient and effective when we can use our strengths to overcome challenges. We can also use our strengths to compensate for weaknesses that can’t be changed.

This starts with the green pen.

We need to look for, listen for, and talk about children’s strengths. We need to point out to children when they’re using them so they’ll gain additional confidence.

To definitely strengthen children, look for, listen for, and talk about strengths from their entire identity: intellectual, emotional, social, physical, spiritual, and character qualities. For example:

Intellectual: Your writing is becoming much more creative as you’re using more adjectives, you’re very accurate at math, you enjoy exploring in science.

Emotional: You stay calm when others around you don’t, you fully embrace your joy, you get disappointed when it’s appropriate and I appreciate that you don’t let things keep you down long.

Social: You have friends from different age groups, you’re curious about people and that helps you engage in meaningful conversations, you’re a loyal friend because it takes a lot for you to consider ending friendships.

Physical: You’re coordinated and that makes it easier for you to help with different tasks around the house, you’re discovering your style with your clothes and it’s fun to see your personality coming out, you can kick the soccer ball far and straight with both feet.

Spiritual: You remember to pray to God when you’re concerned about your friends, I’ve noticed it’s not taking as long for you to memorize Bible verses, you enjoy worshiping with your friends.

Character Qualities: You’re gentle with your younger sister, you’re patient with your grandparents, your work is thorough.

If you’re not familiar with this “complete identity” concept, go to the Family Center at and search for “identity.” The blogs I’ve written will help you. Because identity controls behavior, discovering everything relevant can be a huge help.

If children doubt their strengths, we need to convince them we’re right. We can take pictures and videos of them using their strengths. We can compare today’s work to papers from a month ago so they see their progress. We can time their work to convince them they’re quicker than they used to be. We can explain our beliefs with rich language.

What strengths do your children have that they currently doubt? What can you do to help them believe in themselves? What can you do to help them see connections between strengths and challenges? What will you do? When?