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Kids thrive when challenged

This morning I dropped our youngest kid off at a camp—farm camp, actually. She's a returning camper after loving it last summer. But, I won't forget the first morning I dropped her off last year. Let's just say she wasn't thrilled. 

I felt a lot of empathy for her. As a card-carrying introvert, it takes a lot of energy for me to go into social situations where I feel vulnerable. She had no friends going with her, plus it was a long all-day camp and school had just ended. Meanwhile, her best friends were home all day playing without her. I remember how many times she complained and even cried about going the week prior and how tempted we were to skip the entire week. But, it was non-refundable, so what are you gonna do?

Putting our kids in challenging situations is one part of parenting and educating them well. As much as they need our emotional support and nurture, and as much as they need skills for managing stress and anxiety and learning to rest, they also need to be put in circumstances that will stretch them out of their comfort zones.

Kids, just like adults, prefer the path of least resistance. They typically don't want to be challenged or uncomfortable. They rarely want to meet new people or feel like they're in over their heads. But you just can't escape those scenarios, they are literally the essential ingredients for growth. 

That's why we have to remember the bigger picture, regardless of the current hassle or headache, or tantrum. It's why we have to reflect on our important values and talk with our kids about why it's important to learn new things, meet new people, and expose ourselves to new situations. 

I'm not sure how Jane will do at farm camp today—but I know we'll find out when we pick her up at 3 pm. In the meantime, I'm going to pick up the phone and give someone a call I've been pushing off. If she can act courageously, so can I.


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For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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