When I came home tonight, my kids excitedly shared what they’d been up to all day — designing and then practicing on a ninja exercise course! 

They shared their breathless story of how difficult it had been both to think up and then execute the tough assignment. Apparently, they all took turns repeatedly crossing from swing-to-swing over gaping crocodiles, scaling the slippery pole of certain death, and plunging down the scary slide with reckless abandon!

Again and again. It also explained where all the spaghetti went at dinner.

It reminded me how important it is to teach kids to do hard things.

We parents tend to foolishly think that our job is to make life easy for our kids. Or make it safe. I suppose it is if we want them to learn that life is easy. But is it?

For anything worth having, one must pay the price.  ~ John Burroughs

I suppose that’s partly why we chose to read The Lord of the Rings as our story for family reading time. I’ve blogged about why you should read to your kids and how we have found ways to read to them and enjoy it. One of the reasons we chose to tackle the 1,000 page LOTR by Tolkien with six kids between the ages of 4 and 11 was to teach them — and us — to do hard things.

Instead of running from the challenge, we tackled it head on.

I recall my teacher and mentor from my high school years reminding me often that the brain is a muscle. It will grow if you exercise it. I told my first students the same thing on the first day of school so mnay years ago. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all four of our older kids are now tackling tougher reads all on their own.

And judging from the creative workout they’re getting on the playground, our strategy for cultivating greatness seems to be working.

Do you agree that we should teach children to tackle the tough stuff? What ways have you found to teach your kids to do hard things? Share a comment with a click here to share the growth.


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