As a school, we subscribe to Parenting Ideas, an online resource that provides us with access to a wide range of shareable resources. Please take a moment and read through one of the latest articles, written by Michael Grose, one of Australia’s leading parenting educators and founder of Parenting Ideas.
Helping Kids Tolerate Discomfort
Few right-minded people want children or young people to experience hardships or difficulty. However growing up generally means that kids will experience their fair share of hardships, frustrations and challenges which lead
to uncomfortable feelings.
Exercising their discomfort muscles
Tolerating discomfort is an important resilience skill. It refers to an ability to sit with an uncomfortable or emotionally painful feeling such as disappointment, apprehension, nervousness or fear. These emotions can be
brought about as a result of not being picked for a team; getting lower than expected marks for an assignment; or going into new, unfamiliar situation such as school camp. These are the sorts of every day situations that can
make some kids feel uncomfortable. It’s helpful to think of discomfort as a ‘muscle’ that gets stronger with training. Each time a child or teen successfully tolerates discomfort they’re reinforcing their ability to do so and
cementing the knowledge that they can overcome emotional challenges.
Opportunities to practise tolerating discomfort
Opportunities for practice are plentiful and are found in common situations such as when a child or teen is: feeling hungry; wanting something they can’t have; having to end screen time; contributing to household chores when
they don’t feel like it; missing out on a job interview; asking someone on a date or not receiving a party invitation.
It’s not toughing it out
Tolerating discomfort doesn’t mean toughing out an unbearable situation. It’s teaching your anxious child to notice how they’re feeling, naming their emotions, and practising acceptance of difficult feelings as they occur.
This is done in the knowledge that what they’re experiencing is temporary and that they’re lovingly supported by a warm and comforting adult. Couple tolerating discomfort with social rewards (such as words of praise or shared fun activity) for coping behaviours and you’re helping to build their personal resilience.