Teaching Kids about Getting Help

Dads need to teach their kids where to turn for help. This may sound like a no brainer. However, turning to the wrong sources for help, or always seeking help can actually hurt them in the long run. As dads, we want to be the one to help our children when they need it. We like to fix problems and have the right answers. The problem with this way of thinking is elementary. We are and will not always be around. Secondly, although we may be brilliant, there are topics beyond our expertise and places where we have little authority. Finally, we want our kids to learn how to fix problems on their own when possible. This will make them independent and stronger as they become teenagers and young adults.

The key is for your child to know when he/she cannot remedy a situation on their own, to be willing to ask for help and to know the best resource for the remedy that they need. This lesson starts with us as dads being honest about our own levels of knowledge, ability, or the lack thereof. Some may think this shows weakness, but I would argue the contrary. Honesty builds trust regardless if the information is good or bad. The other part of that scenario is that we have to remember that providing our kids with resources is part of helping them solve problems.  

When they are babies and little, you as dad will have a more hands-on solution to their needs. This is because their needs are basic: food, shelter, protection, and love. However, as they grow and their world expands, so will their need for others that can assist them with their goals and struggles. 

No man could love my kids more when they were little. However, regardless of how much I loved them and wanted them to have their heart’s desire, there were some things that were beyond me. There were some situations that I was powerless to assist them. An example of that was “making the team”. If you have read many of my other posts or my book, Surviving the Smiles, you know that 2 of my kids had quite impressive soccer careers. I was a soccer coach for little kids, as well as a licensed select team coach. As a former player myself, I had the knowledge of all the basics for them to learn the game and enjoy themselves. However, as they got older and their skills developed, they grew beyond my abilities to take them to the next level. I had to seek out the right people who could meet their desire for something bigger. In a sense, I had to turn them over to the professionals.

When faced with these challenges, the important thing for you as a dad is to research their options and find the right people/resources. Although you may not have a direct impact in every situation, introducing and supporting outside help carries a lot of responsibility. There are good teachers and coaches, and there are those that suck. Keep in mind that what determines this is not how your kid performs, but how they develop. Growth is key. Your kids won’t always win and there is usually someone better…somewhere. Don’t blame teachers and coaches if your kid messes up. Just because Junior didn’t make the team, that doesn’t mean the coach is the one with the problem.

Kids need to have a work ethic that drives them to want to be and do better. The responsibility lies with you as a parent. These lessons come at an early age. Secondly, the truth is that kids can accel in certain areas and fall behind in others. Are you trying to force something that is beyond their capabilities? Should efforts and time be placed in a different area?

We need to encourage our kids NOT to rely on others to fix everything. They need to struggle. Yes, they need to work out, work through, fight for, and learn to solve problems. They also need to learn how to seek out resources and research those resources. By teaching them to do these things, you are setting them up for success. This is accomplished by you showing them how.

Lastly, I have found an absolute truth that ALL kids need to know. They need to address adults as sir and ma’am. They also need to show gratitude. Adults want to help respectful and grateful kids. Most of them will go out of their way to help this type of kid/teen. It is an art form. Do you want your kids to GET more, be considered above others, and to keep resources? Teach them manners! Sir, ma’am, thank you and please are GOLD! Show them how to show appreciation, write thank you notes, how to speak, and how to conduct themselves. This is a WIN-WIN. Doing this alone will give them such an advantage. It also helps you to be the best dad possible.