Some years ago one of my sons had a marble maze due for his lower school science class. The morning of the due date found him frantically gluing items onto a large cardboard square trying to create the maze. It was a mess. The glue was dripping off, things that didn’t belong were sticking to it, and there was clearly no plan to the project. Fortunately for him, his project was not picked to be presented that day. However, he was very disappointed after watching several other projects presented. He knew his maze was not the best it could have been.
After sharing his disappointment with us we encouraged him to go back to his teacher and ask if he could redo his project. In the end he was given a second chance with a lower grade. We had known all along the project was coming up. We could have stepped in and rescued him by doing the project ourselves or at least by nagging that the work get done. However, by letting him experience the bitter taste of the lower grade, the lesson of taking responsibility for his school work was something he would not easily forget. Even now years later when I asked if I could share the situation, he remembers every detail and joins with us in a good laugh.
Although frustrating at the time, lessons learned the hard way are important experiences for our children. Yet so many of us step in each time one of our children get close to failing and rescue them from what in the end would be a great life lesson. Sometimes we choose to rescue our children because quite frankly it just takes our child too long to figure something out by themselves. Other times we decide to alleviate the consequence because we are sure others would think we are terrible parents for letting our child present such a poor project or arrive to school without the required homework.
In our desire to shield our children from disappointment, we also shield them from learning the life skills necessary to deal with disappointment and the consequences for their poor choices. We need to remember that much of teaching our children to succeed comes directly from allowing them to learn lessons the hard way.
What was the last lesson your child learned the hard way?
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