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Viewing Challenges as Gifts

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Challenges are gifts . . . but only if we’re open to receiving them that way.

Challenges are really just opportunities to learn. With that mindset, we embrace struggles rather than fear them.

What do I mean?  Well, suppose a child has Tourette’s Syndrome, which is characterized by uncontrollable sounds (e.g. coughing) or movement (e.g. facial twitching) which are called tics.

Okay, you may be thinking: What could possibly be the upside of that?  After all, kids are just going to make fun of that child.

And you’re correct . . . there’s a high probability that child will be ridiculed at one time or another.

But while we can’t control whether our child has tics or how others treat him when they appear, we do have the power in how we teach our child to respond—and how we then respond, in kind. Those are the gifts that are waiting to be unwrapped.

For example, if our child has Tourette’s Syndrome, we can teach him to answer in a way that empowers him and leaves no room for feeling like a victim.  Such a response might be, “My twitches are just a tiny, tiny part of all of me. How can I help you see all the rest of me?”

We can teach our child to appreciate and value friends who see beyond a physical impairment.

We can create opportunities where our child befriends another child with a different kind of disability, giving our child the chance to be the one who models recognizing and honoring the core of that person.

We can teach our child that another person can only hurt us to the degree that we allow.

We can model an attitude that reflects a sincere belief that challenges are opportunities to learn, reflect, and build character.  Consider how that greatly contrasts with our modeling endless worry over how our child is going to feel if the dreaded scenario ever happens.

In short, worrying only amplifies a feeling of helplessness. If it actually influenced a positive outcome, then sure, we should worry all day long. But it doesn’t. It just creates more angst.  In fact, the movie star Michael J. Fox says he never worries for one main reason: If the bad “thing” eventually happened, then he will have lived through whatever he dreaded twice.

So, yes, there are going to be challenges in all of our lives. Count on it. But when such struggles arrive on our doorstep, why not teach our children to ask:  What gifts are wrapped inside this challenge?

 

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