I've been learning a lot about success from my older daughter this week. I wrote last week about how soccer has been a rough go this season. She changed coaches. She's been hurt. She's struggling to pick up everything new she needs to know to compete.
And this weekend it all came to a head. She made a mistake in an important game that led to a goal. She made the same mistake in the next game. She came home discouraged and frustrated. She felt like she would never get it. She felt like the worst player on the team. She felt like she had let her teammates, her coach and herself down.
After the tears had been shed (a lot from her, a few from me because it's never easy to watch your kid struggle), I asked her this question: "What do you need to succeed?" The answer to that question could have been anything. She could have told me she was done playing soccer. She could have told me she didn't know. She could have told me she needed me to be quiet.
But she didn't tell me any of those things. As we talked, she identified that she needed to figure out where she was having trouble, and she needed more practice to fix it. So, we made a plan. She asked to talk to her coach and went in prepared to hear what he had to say. Some of what he told her was hard to hear, but he clearly identified three areas she needed to work on. He told her what she was doing wrong and how to fix it.
Next, we addressed how to get her more practice. We added two practices to the schedule each week to increase the amount of time she has to get touches on the ball. She's committed to putting in the practice to get better, to learn how to not make the same mistakes.
So, now she has a plan and the work ethic to follow through, but what I learned this week is that we all struggle with something in our lives. Our kids all have something on their plate that isn't going the way they want it to. And too often, we try to solve that problem for them. We try to identify the issues and fix them. What we should be doing, though, is teaching them how to identify the issues and to figure out what they need to fix them.
We need to be asking our kids "What do you need to succeed?" about everything in their lives. Because what they need to succeed may not be the same thing that you or I would need to succeed in the same situation. God made each of us different. He gave each of us the ability to tackle problems in a different way. We have to recognize that each of our children may need something different from us to help them succeed.
Success in any endeavor is ultimately up to our kids. They have to put in the work and the time to succeed. But we can help by providing them with the things that they need to succeed. We just have to ask them and help them identify what those things are.
So the next time your child is struggling with something, set aside the temptation to simply fix the problem. Instead, ask "What do you need to succeed?"
Don't forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life's everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.