One Hard Thing – Teaching Kids to Try Hard Things
Over the summer, I am starting a program for my kids that I am calling “One Hard Thing.” Teaching kids to try hard things can be a real challenge. Sometimes our fear of failure or something new can be paralyzing. Sometimes it can even keep us from looking clearly at the task and realizing that it is actually not that hard.
So every day, we are going to tackle one “hard” skill or task. My goal is to make it hard, but doable. The tasks are meant to be completed in about 15-30 minutes. I want small, fast, concrete victories. I also told my kids that I don’t care if they actually do them successfully or not, I just want them to calmly and cheerfully try to do their best.
My hope is that by the end of the summer my kids will identify themselves as people who tackle hard and intimidating things all the time. I want them to get used to the idea that they might not do it right at first, but the goal is to try. I am hoping to build confidence and resiliency, something that we are struggling with right now. I figure if doing something hard becomes part of their routine, it will no longer feel so new, scary and foreign.
The name of the program was very much on purpose. I want to neutralize the word “hard.” My goal isn’t necessarily to get them to do these things on my list, even though they are life skills I am glad we are practicing. My goal is to make them not scared of things that they have labeled as hard.
I also didn’t want to make it some complicated program with lots of printouts and charts. This momma doesn’t have time to stay up late crafting star charts. I also read once in an article on successful businesses that the best ones were ones that had flexible structures that allowed them to quickly tweak things as needed. I have applied this to my own family and have learned that keeping it simple and flexible allows me to adjust things quickly when it is not working for my kids or our situation. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t consistent. I am crazy consistent. But it allows me to focus on my kids and not the program. Setting this up should take minutes, not hours.
So for teaching kids to try hard things, I have a simple list on a cork board that we will be crossing things off on. And if I want to add something, I just write it underneath in my terrible handwriting. The kids don’t care.
For my kids, screen time is their currency. So I am giving out 15 or 30 minutes of screen time depending on the task. Some of the tasks are fun and easier, so it will only be 15 minutes. But some of the tasks are going to be more of a struggle. To earn the time, the kids only need to keep a good attitude and sincerely try to do it. I told them if they fail at it, it is no big deal.
LIST OF ONE HARD THINGS – Teaching Kids to Try Hard Things
- Use the sewing machine
- Hammer in a nail
- Screw in a screw
- Use the drill
- Thread a needle
- Tie a new kind of knot
- Wrap a present
- Solve an easy Sudoku
- Change a diaper
- Math word problem with multiple steps
- Play a song on a recorder
- Call a store and ask a question
- Look at a menu and figure out what you could buy for $20, including tip
- Climb a ladder and change a light bulb
- Pump up a bike tire or ball
- Learn the rules to a new card game
- Learn a magic trick
- Learn how to iron
- Double a recipe
- Check tire pressure
- Learn how to take your temperature
- Fold a fitted sheet
- Do a load of laundry
- Learn all the rules of a new sport
- Learn to metal stamp
At first, I am going to let one child pick once a week and then I get to pick the others. We will see how that goes and change it if needed. At the end of the summer, I will update this post with what I have learned.