The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Confidently Embrace Discomfort

August 27, 2020

September can be an anxious time for kids. Going back to school, starting in a new school or having a new teacher may make them uncomfortable. And your little one might be feeling especially stressed and uneasy amid the current pandemic affecting our country. But we can help kids learn to manage discomfort and parents can play a huge role in instilling confidence and resilience traits that’ll serve them well throughout life. 

Here are 5 things parents can do to help children feel empowered in unfamiliar situations, get out of their comfort zones and overcome challenges. 


1. Validate feelings 

Any conversation about discomfort should start with acknowledging how kids feel. It’s important to let your child express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Their emotions are real, even when their behavior might be out of place. Try saying, “I can see you’re frustrated,or “A lot of people feel anxious. It’s okay if you feel that way too.” 


2. Be honest about challenges 

Parents can encourage children to be more open about their emotions by sharing their own emotions and how they plan to deal with them. When you tell your child, “I’m frustrated, but I’m focusing on just doing the best I can do,” they see that hard times don’t have to stop them from achieving their goals. 


3. Praise effort, not results 

Things don’t always work out, even when we do everything right. We can only control our effort, not the outcome. Congratulate or commiserate with them, but no matter the result, make sure to also acknowledge the process with “I’m impressed with how hard you studied,” or “I know how much you practiced.” 


4. Give them the freedom to fail 

You might think of success and failure as opposites, but successful people often say they wouldn’t be where they are without overcoming failure. When kids don’t fear failure, they’re more likely to try things and stick it out when things get tough. Try saying, “I can tell you’re disappointed, but I’m proud of how you didn’t give up.” 


5. Be present 

The most important thing parents can do to help children be more comfortable is simply being there. There are few things more powerful than knowing they have their parents’ unconditional love and support. When children hear “I’m here for you” and “I love you and I want to give you the attention you need” from their mom or dad that means a lot to them. 


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