Benefits of Struggling: Are You Helping Your Child Too Much?
Do you ever find yourself assisting your child with just about everything, even things you know he or she is perfectly capable of doing? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Parents have a natural tendency to continuously help and protect their children. After all, you want the best for them. Ironically, when it comes to schoolwork, a parent who jumps in to help too quickly could actually be doing more harm than good. Letting your child struggle and even fail sometimes can be highly beneficial to his or her development.
Why should you let your child struggle?
Here are some important things your child gains from struggling to master a new task or concept:
- Intellectual growth and development
- Problem-solving skills
- Emotional strength and perseverance
Eastern and Western cultures have different takes on struggling in the school system. Generally, Western cultures perceive struggle as a sign of weakness or burden. In Eastern cultures, however, letting students struggle is considered necessary for their growth. According to the book NurtureShock, Asian students are forced to figure out a problem without assistance if they get it wrong. This may sound harsh to Westerners, but when the student finally gets the answer right, the teacher and classmates make him or her feel proud by celebrating and clapping. This shows Eastern students the satisfaction and reward that comes from hard work.
The way we think about struggle affects our behavior as students, teachers, and parents or Learning Coaches. Stepping aside and letting your child struggle a bit is not easy. But don’t be disheartened! Below are a few reasons why helping your child less—or delaying your help—is incredibly beneficial in the long run.
Mistakes are valuable
Try not to correct your children too quickly. If you notice some mistakes in your child’s assignment or project, encourage him or her to communicate with the teachers and ask questions. You will be pleased when your child gains a valuable lesson from the mistake and experiences a gratifying “aha” moment.
Failure prepares children for the “real world”
A constant “quick fix” can cause a false illusion that success is standard. Instead, teach your child that failing is part of the learning process and that it will help him or her do better next time. It is important that children feel capable and competent enough to overcome setbacks when they eventually go off to college or enter the working world—it will make the “real world” much less daunting.
Struggle is good for the brain
If you overstep your support in daily assignments and tasks, is your child really gaining any knowledge? A parent or Learning Coach’s role is not to do all the work for the student! Instead, it’s important to step back and take an advisory role, guiding children while they learn valuable academic skills so they can become more independent over time. Children need to be challenged in order to learn and cultivate their brains. Allow your child to earn that A, or even that C, on his or her own merit.
It shapes identity
Kids face a tough question as they move from their preteen years and into adulthood—“Who am I?” When you attempt to meet your child’s multiple academic obligations, he or she might never discover a sense of identity. Instead, your child could feel confused and insecure. Sometimes, it’s how children cope with different challenges that shapes who they are. Perseverance, character, and strength often develop in the midst of struggle.
Helping your children less and allowing them to struggle can positively influence their journey into adulthood. In what ways has letting your child struggle benefited him or her? Share your experience with us.