[callout]Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.[/callout]

mom and son

In Monday’s blog, you learned why using effort can cause today’s young people to feel immediately insecure. They’re not used to having to try hard so when they must, they can lack confidence.

I started the blog with a conversation you’ve perhaps heard in your home::

“It’s too hhhaaarrrddd!!!”

“You can do it.”

“No I can’t. You said I’m smart, but this is hard!”

“Being smart doesn’t necessarily make everything easy. Stop complaining and just do it. I looked at the assignment and you use the same skills you did on yesterday’s assignment. You can do it.”

Let me make a significant recommendation. Although Celebrate Kids, Inc., is all about being solution-focused, children need to know they’ve been heard before we start talking about what they can do differently.

In the above example, imagine if we responded like this:

“It’s too hhhaaarrrddd!!!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. What’s making it hard?”

This lets our child know we’ve heard her. When responding “You can do it” we appear to be rejecting her declaration that the assignment or task is “too hard.” We’re making it harder for her to ask for additional help if she really does need it.

If we choose to stop, make eye contact, and indicate sincere concern – and this is all a choice – our child may feel more hopeful and confident. Spending a concentrated few minutes immediately when our son lets us know he’s concerned, may save us time later. When hearing him complain, try to not immediately respond in your mind with “I don’t have time for this!” That might be a pattern you’ve developed, but it may not be true. If it is always true, some changes in your schedule at this time of day may be in order.

If we know our daughter well, what’s troubled her in the past, and how she is smart, we might be able to predict her need and save further time. But, it’s an excellent idea to train our children to learn how to ask for specific help. If they’re young or not self-aware enough, we can use a verbal multiple-choice to ask what may help and see what ideas they respond well to.

When they do ask for specific help, without whining, do what’s appropriate. You might use it as a teachable moment for training or you might just help them out.

With some children who continue to proclaim, “This is hhhaaarrrddd!”  it can work well to simply look them in the eye and ask, “Are you complaining or asking for help?”

If the problem your son is having isn’t related to the task being “too hard” use this teachable moment to show him how to be honest. It does him no good to verbalize something is “too hard” when that isn’t the problem. For instance, maybe he is just frustrated that he has to get up again to find his ruler. Or, maybe he can’t reach the soap you want him to use when cleaning something. Or, maybe he tripped while approaching the table and “It’s too hard!” is his common phrase when he’s frustrated or embarrassed.

What do you think? Have I given you new ideas for responding when your children complain that something is hard? Which will you try? Let me know how it makes a difference.