Discomfort Tolerance

The other day 7 put on his swim trunks and immediately began complaining.

“Daddy, this tag makes me itchy. Ow, ow, ow!” he shrieked.

“Ok, pal,” I replied in the calmest tone I could muster, despite the obvious gravity of the situation. “Let me take a look.”

7 shed his clothes and continued complaining. We resolved the problem by removing the tag from the clothes and further crisis was averted.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Our kids, like many, want their problems solved instantaneously and they don’t want to incur any discomfort whatsoever and we, as parents, strive to minimize their problems or discomfort as much as possible. But sometimes I wonder if that’s the best idea.

We were at a large theme park a few days ago and it started to rain. Instantly, our kids looked for shelter and acted as if the raindrops were going to drown them. We did find shelter and they each got out their umbrellas and all was well within a matter of minutes. However, I reminded them that sometimes in life it rains and we get wet. And sometimes there’s very shelter and our umbrella is broken or elsewhere. What can we do? We get wet. We deal with it. It’s about problem solving — taking a few moments to gather your thoughts, remain calm and consider a solution. I like to remind my kids that every problem has a solution. That worked until my smart 7-year-old reminded me that death has no solution. He’s got me there.

I remember reading an article a few years ago about young professionals in their mid-20’s who were ending up on therapist’s couches all over the country because they did not know how to deal with problems that arose in their lives. They lost a job. A girlfriend broke up with them. They had a car accident. They were so reliant on mom and dad to handle their crises that when they encountered one in their own lives, while living away from home, they were paralyzed. I don’t want that to happen to my children.

In our home it’ll happen in the morning while brushing the back of their teeth.It’ll happen when their backpack is a little bit too heavy. It’ll happen when they stub their toe. Sure, it’s a natural reaction to experience a moment of pain or anger or discomfort but, hopefully, they develop a sense of discomfort tolerance so when the big things in life hit, they’ll be ready to handle them.


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About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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