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Build Your Child’s Strength With Struggle

August 30, 2011

There once was a young girl who lived on a beautiful farm with her family and everyday she attended to her farm duties, one which included watching over the chicken coop. One of her favorite parts about taking care of the chickens was to tend to the new baby chicks that hatch.

One day, she noticed that there were several new baby chicks that hatched that were huddled under their mother hen, but there was still one egg that hadn’t hatched yet! To her excitement, the unhatched chick started to poke and struggle its way out of its shell.  Reactively, the little girl chose to help by gently peeling the shell away and freeing the chick.

Just as the young girl freed the baby chick though, it gasped, fell over and stopped breathing. The girl knew something was wrong so she ran to her mother to tell her what happened. The mother could have scolded the girl for what she did, but instead she chose to teach her an important lesson with caring words. “The baby chick must struggle to free itself from its shell in order to survive sweetheart. If it doesn’t experience that important event then it will never become strong enough to survive”.

This story is meant to illustrate that just like baby chicks, all of us must struggle sometimes so we can build the strength to not only survive, but to thrive. Especially our kids.  All to often I see kids that are constantly being bailed out of their struggles by their parents because they can’t stand seeing them suffer.  Our initial reaction when a child comes down with a fever is to reach for the fever suppressant. What we have forgotten is how important it is for that child to suffer through a fever in order for their immune system to fully develop and build a robust immunity to future viral infections.  When a child gets an ear infection- most of the time without even knowing the problem is even bacterial- we are quick to deliver antibiotics to destroy germs and bacteria. To the child’s disservice, the often bouts of antibiotics destroy healthy gut bacteria too that aid in digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, immune function, nutrition, and many other beneficial functions. I see mothers that give in to their screaming child that o-so wants that sugar coated sugar flavored sugar water. Then, we wonder why our kids are the SICKEST kids who have EVER walked the planet?

Struggle is a critical experience for everyone, and sometimes it’s for our own good to suffer through the experience because almost always we come out on the other side even stronger than before.  So please, comfort your kids, but let them know that it is ok to let their body handle a cold or a fever. Or that it’s ok to be sad every once in a while, or that hard work is a virtue, and failure is only feedback.  Because if we miss the incredibly valuable lesson of struggle, we fail to grow and succeed.

Your health coach,

Dr. Ryan

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