Thanksgiving finds me pondering, what am I really grateful for? In addition to good health and meaningful work and relationships, I find that I am more and more aware of how important it is to recognize, with appreciation, the challenges that come my way.
In my work with children I am fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with them about what matters— their hurts, successes, disappointments, challenges, sadness, happiness, and more. We hear so much today about how innovation is by necessity, inextricably linked with failure. Innovation is terrifying and we must teach children how to bounce back from failure. That is a challenge for every parent.
We give children the tailwinds they need to grow and develop to their full capacity when we help children take on challenges and help them learn how to bounce back from failure. Tailwinds are the ideas and ideals we impart to children and this is the lens they will look out from into the world. Headwinds will come for sure, but what is important is how they will respond.
Their response will be learned from role models, first and foremost their parents and then through the stories they meet, with characters meeting challenges in ways we can learn from. We could give children a laundry list of how to deal with challenge, but a story, with characters a child cares about, will enter through the doorway of their heart and give them new awareness.
Stories that offer characters struggling to overcome a challenge, where their response marks them as special, are my favorite kinds of stories. Children become involved in the stories they read by caring about a character and caring what happens to them. Their empathy is the most important ingredient in finding their “home run” books.
Children love holidays and a family celebration is the perfect moment to imbue a holiday with significance and meaning. Speaking of the blessings of challenges and our responses will certainly yield much to think and talk about. A wonderful meal deserves conversation to match.