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Teach children how to manage life challenges

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By Dickson Tumuramye

OPINION | I was at my child’s school for a sports day recently. One of the children in the bicycle game race fell and became the last. The child cried throughout the end of other games.

First of all, this child didn’t lose by his own making. They all started well but along the way, his bicycle got a mechanical problem. By the time it was well fixed, all his competitors had passed him making him the last.

There is no way how I can blame his failure to win on him. He had no control over the mechanical problem of his bicycle but that didn’t stop him from breaking down as he looked at himself as a failure.

In life, we are always bombarded with those moments of failure and most of the times; it’s beyond our own making. But the way we handle failures and life challenges makes a difference. Life is an endless barrage of problems but if we perceive them with a positive attitude, they can make life more meaningful. We learn, develop and grow from every experience.

If this child was able to recognize what happened and know that it wasn’t because of him, he wouldn’t have blamed it on himself. He was not only disappointed but felt very frustrated. He was not even willing to go back to his camp. It could have become worse if his fellow pupils blamed him or showed him a negative welcome.

This can affect the child’s esteem if not well handled. This is where as a parent, you need to orient your children that failure is part of life. Challenges in life shape our skills in critical thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution, informed decision making. You can cite some few incidences where you have also even been disappointed, frustrated by life circumstances but all that never stopped you from moving forward.

Most youth today finish campus with high hopes of getting jobs. But life is never a straight line. Some take time to get and vice versa. Some get heartbroken and end into use of substances and alcoholism, allowing life challenges to control them.

Some of us we are because of challenges we have gone through. We have faced terrible problems but I have always looked at a very problem as the stepping stone to my next  opportunity. Problems lead to growth and initiating new solutions/ideas. In business, they tell us to look at a problem as a business opportunity and run to exploit it. 

Let us teach our children to always view life from a positive perspective. Regardless of all life setbacks, there is always light at the end of a tunnel. Where there is no failure, there is no feedback for improvement.

Life challenges are part of us in all ways. Some people repeated classes, others dropped out of school for different reasons, lost businesses but with focus and determination, they have made it.  There are many hindrances in every life journey which you need to let your child be prepared of. I am convinced beyond doubt that no situation is permanent. Seasons come and go but when we don’t waver, life continues and every thing goes back to normal. It may not come automatically but all will be well one day.

To help your child learn to solve life challenges; teach them to learn how to acknowledge a challenge, take a responsibility where necessary, how to effectively communicate it to you, instill empowering beliefs in them, teach them patience and persistence, how to stop self-destructive habits, actively seek-out solutions. You also be a good listener and an encouragement to your child and stand together is solving them.

Remember to always commit everything to God; He is a solution to all our life challenges.

The writer is a child advocate and counselor based in Kampala. 

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