Dealing with Difficultly – Why Kids Need Practice Doing Hard Things – TEDx Wilmington

Are you sick of dealing with difficulty and conflict between you and your teens when it comes to doing chores, or anything deemed as hard? I am. If I had a dime for every gaslighting comment about what a terrible mom I am, I’d be rich. In this post I am going to address how you have to deal with difficulty of your teen’s resistance, so they have skills for dealing with difficulty for the rest of their lives.

I had only ten minutes to for TEDxWilmington talk: Suck it Up! Calm Anxious Kids with Simple Chores on Sept 27th, 2018 at Tedx Wilmington. I have hours more to add so I am doing a series of blog post for all the ideas that ending up on the cutting room floor to make the talk concise. First, though, here is the video of the talk. Please watch it and pass it along on social media or send it to your parent and teacher friends!


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Here is the written version of the talk. Back to the blog post:

Dealing with Difficulty

Being a parent today is no walk in the park. Especially with anxious kids.

Commercialism has made our job so difficult. Every advertisement music apps, in podcasts, movies, TV, billboards, game apps, and on social media, benches, walls, packaging (on practically every surface we see) touts the message that we deserve things, just because we are us.

This message gets under the skin, we like it, it makes us feel good and important.  We want the product, so we can have the good, deserving feeling the product promises. We feel entitled to have it. Because they say we are entitled to it.

dealing with difficulty TEDx Jodi Aman TEDxWlimingtonThis is a big reason why anxiety is so pandemic. Kids today are raised on these commercials. Even if you restrict your children’s TV, they are everywhere (even in schools) growing a sense of entitlement to huge proportions. Kids want what they want, they feel like they deserve it whether they work for it or not, simply because they are them.  Generally, kids have lost their work ethic.  (Not every kid, many kids are incredibly hard working.) Read more in my book You 1, Anxiety 0.

When our children are born, we hold our little bundles and think that we are going to make the world perfect for them, protecting them from all harm and trouble. Our love overflows and we try to do this to the best of our abilities. But we can become like Merlin, the dad in Finding Nemo. He didn’t want anything to happen to his son, and Dory says, “What do you mean you don’t want anything to happen to him? Then nothing would happen to him!”

Worse is they won’t gain skills in dealing with difficulty. When people have a perfect, safe childhood getting everything they want, the world is quite dangerous for them. Eventually they will have a challenge and then they won’t know what to do. They will freeze and have trouble wading out of it. It can have a worse effect on them, than someone who has been allowed to fail and wrk on something hard. See this video when Will Smith talks about chores he did and how it grew a sense of belief in himself to do anything he set his mind to.


Anxious Kids

Our kids expect their lives to be perfect, safe, easy – CONTROLLED – and we desire to make it so for them. (Mostly because that helps us be in control, too!) However, if they are slightly uncomfortable, and dealing with difficulty in the friends groups, academically or wherever, they AKA they feel out of control, they begin to panic. As you heard from my TEDx talk, not having learned that they can act towards their goal, life feels very uncertain after that.

Dealing with Difficulty in their future.

A desperate mom left this comment on my old Anxiety-Schmanxiety on

My 19 year old son has severe depression and anxiety. He refuses counseling, and will only take his medication when he is rock bottom. He has only one friend. One of my biggest problems right now is that in order for me to keep things on an even keel I give in to him constantly. I am starting to see (I think) that his need to control me and his younger brother may stem from his feeling unable to control anything else in his life. I need to break this. And, I am at a loss. It is scary and painful.

Exactly, his need for control is that he feels so out of control in his life. No matter how much he controls a situation, he may use the excuse that he is out of control. This is a tactic of power, playing on his parents inherent guilt that he is struggling.

Skills in doing hard things

Sometimes in protecting them, we take away our children’s ability to do what they don’t want to do–skills in doing hard things. (See more on Benefits of Chores) I help to ease them into doing things that they don’t want to do. Start small and begin to build confidence.

There is an answer: It is attitude.  See the good instead of seeing the bad.  They think they have to feel good before they could do things, but it is the opposite. They have to do things to gradually feel good. The problem is they have so convinced themselves and everyone around them that “they can’t.”  We need skills in doing hard things to survive this physical world.  We need to have confidence in ourselves that we can do it in order  to do it.  We need to have them do hard things and reap the rewards of this.

They will convince us that it is not “worth it,” but it is so worth it.

These skills will help them their whole lives. But mostly it will help them not be anxious kids.

It is one of the most important gifts that we can give our children– the ability to work through a hard time. More info in the comment section!


Restoring, and Re-Storying Work Ethic Part I   


Do you have anxious kids? How grateful were you to have the skills to get through a hard time in your life?

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