Children struggle when they are expected to do something that they don’t have the skills to efficiently master on their own. When the demand is within their reach to do well, all they need is a little support to persist, learn, and grow. When children exert themselves and experience positive outcomes, they build their sense of competence, confidence, and efficacy to persist when things are tough. This is the essence of resilience.
But what happens when children’s demands are too big and they don’t have the necessary skills and/or the proper support to do what is expected of them? When children do their best and continue to experience negative outcomes - despite their best intentions and efforts to do well - they tend to internalize their failures. Over time, they experience a diminished sense of self-worth, become discouraged, and may learn to stop trying (i.e., hopeless and helpless).
Read through the following statements and see if you can identify where your child struggles. Does your child:
act out of impulse in ways that are disruptive and/or dangerous?
move around a lot or make loud sounds when expected to sit still and be quiet?
struggle to calm themselves when upset or excited?
get bored or lose interest easily?
become easily distracted when expected to pay attention and focus?
struggle to learn, understand, and/or remember information?
need extra time to process information (e.g., when learning or when communicating)?
struggle to follow directions?
make careless mistakes?
underachieve despite their best intentions and efforts to do well?
give up when faced with a challenging task (e.g., homework, tests, chores)?
procrastinate and/or have difficulty managing their time?
struggle to plan, organize, and/or prioritize what needs to be done?
struggle to problem-solve and make decisions?
struggle to adapt to unforeseen challenges as they arise?
struggle with social perspective-taking, negotiating, and/or cooperating with others?
have trouble making and/or keeping friends?
have sensory sensitivities (e.g., around sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and/or pain)?
feel inadequate or incapable?
Is your child doing the very best they can and still struggling to consistently do well? If so, see if you can identify where their struggles show up (e.g., school, home, friendships) and how it is impacting them (e.g., frustration, discouragement, helplessness). As you reflect on your child’s struggles, ask yourself whether you believe they could benefit from additional support. A qualified professional, trained to work in the area that your child is struggling with, can help identify your child’s strengths, challenges, underlying needs, and appropriate intervention strategies to support your child’s optimal developmental outcomes.
- Written by Cynthia Yoo, Registered Psychologist -