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Teaching Your Kids To Suffer Well

one is the loneliest number..

Well that doesn’t sound very loving.  You mean I’m telling you I want your kids to suffer?  No, of course not. However, some level of suffering is completely unavoidable in the human existence. And it doesn’t even have to do with today’s society or technology or anything like that. It’s about learning to live well with the unavoidable suffering we all face.

Suffering Through Normal Trials And Tribulations

Before I go any further, I need to preface this. When I talk about suffering, I do not mean something intentionally harmful like bullying or child abuse.  I’m talking about your garden variety unavoidable things-didn’t-go-my-way suffering.  No person on the planet can avoid this, which is precisely why you need to help your kids learn to suffer as best they can when they need to.

Your kids will try out for things and not make them.  They will endure a frustrated teacher who knows they can do better. They will learn to navigate through emotional times in their friendships. they will learn to deal with differences of abilities between them and their friends, and how it changes their self-confidence and friendships.

Suffering well means growing up a tiny bit at a time. All of us have done it, so we may as well help our kids do it too. Otherwise, picture a world of impatient two year-old complaining about every change and inequity. Much wisdom in the world has come from people who have suffered a little.  Not so much from those who sit back and complain.

Teach Them To Move Through Their Suffering

Distraction and emotional connection are two great ways to deal with suffering; they don’t change the facts, but they do make the suffering much more tolerable.  Use your child’s moment of suffering to teach them these important skills.

Teach them to talk to you or another trusted person about their feelings as they suffer. Give them things to do while they suffer. Help them find meaning in their suffering. In the composite of their whole life, their suffering may not seem so bad with your help.

Creative Commons License photo credit: haileybugg

Teaching Your Kids To Suffer Well

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Teaching Your Kids To Suffer Well. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Apr 2010
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