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Ever wonder how to build resilience in your kids? Singer and childhood stutterer Harrison Craig has written a book he hopes will help.
Harrison Craig was bullied for his stutter growing up, but went on to discover his talent for singing and win The Voice in 2013. Through his book Harrison’s Song he encourages children to find their talent and overcome challenges.
As a child Harrison struggled to overcome shyness and bullying, battling a stutter that made everyday conversation very difficult.
He is now a professional singer performing around the world in concert and on television and has had a hit platinum record, touring the country with sold out shows.
My greatest struggle is told within this book, so I hope it can inspire and educate on the benefit of belief, determination, hard work, and most of all - support from your family, friends, and teachers.
Harrison says he hopes that his book which tells the story of how he overcame adversity through the gift of song, will encourage children to overcome their fears and challenges to reach their goals and dreams.
“It is a great way for parents and teachers alike to help coach a child through any difficulty. My greatest struggle is told within this book, so I hope it can inspire and educate on the benefit of belief, determination, hard work, and most of all - support from your family, friends, and teachers,” Harrison says.
“I will never forget the day that I struggled to deliver a school oral presentation. I had revised and practiced so much, but because my technique (a.k.a. the hard work) wasn’t there I struggled to gain control over my speaking.
“From that day onward, I decided that I would never let that problem stop me again!”
Harrison discovered that he didn’t stutter when he sang when he was quite young.
“It felt like a cheat code at the time - like I had found this new confidence I could only utilise in certain situations.
“It was more than enough at the time though; to feel so liberated and relaxed. I will never forget that feeling.”
Helping children find their spark
Collett Smart is a psychologist, qualified teacher, lecturer and writer. She has more than 20 years’ experience working in private and public schools, as well as in private practice. She says when working with children facing challenges, it’s important to help them find their spark.
The term “spark” was coined by Dr Peter Benson, a leading authority on childhood and adolescence. It could be anything from nature, animals, sports, maths and science, to the arts. It speaks to what puts light in your child’s eyes and gets them up in the morning.
She says it is a parents’ job to help a child find spark and then pursue it.
Collett says children often face teasing or bullying when they are different and it’s imperative that parents become their child’s advocate and keep going to the school until something is done.
“Friendships and childhood relationships are tricky. They go through phases and stages,” she says.
“By helping children find support networks and friendships in lots of areas of their lives (family, their sport or craft club, a neighbour, grandparents), this ensures that they have many other sources to turn to.
“Also, when your child knows their spark they become like a mini expert in their special area, and this develops confidence. It gives them something that brings them joy when peer pressure or self-doubt hit. It increases resilience and decreases the feeling of loneliness.
“It’s not easy, but also use these opportunities as ‘teachers’ with your child. What I mean is, help your child think about how they might treat others differently if they were in a similar situation.”
Important role of parents
Harrison acknowledges that bullying is a difficult problem facing schools and that there is no single solution.
“I would ask my mother, ‘do I have to go to school, Mum?’ - Looking back on this, I see that as a young boy I had doubt, and was afraid,” he says.
“Fortunately, the benefit of having high quality teachers that truly desire to see a child improve within themselves as well as the class room is crucial.
“Parents need to keep ensuring that the support their kids receive from them is unique, stimulating, and inspiring.”
Harrison says children need the support of parents.
“As the saying goes ‘there is nothing more important to give to your children than your time’ - and it is absolutely true.
“Children need a lot of support growing up, especially if they are presented with dramatic challenges that can disrupt the fabric of their development.
“Parents are the keepers of their domain and will guide them; so please ensure that they are nurtured in a variety of ways including mentally so as to help them understand that their determination to overcome must strike from within and that only they can overcome this challenge.”
Collett says resilience is an important trait for children and something that children can be taught.
Resilience comes through children having support networks; developing a skill (not having to be the best at the skill, but a skill they enjoy cultivating); being kind and supportive of others through helping or volunteering, through feeling useful and resourceful (this can be done through chores and helping around the house); and also feeling like they belong or matter at school (to even one person or teacher).
“Parents need to look for ways to incorporate these areas into their children’s lives,” she says.
“Many of them present themselves quite naturally, so it’s not about being a helicopter parent and micro managing every part of your child’s life.
“In fact, children who are micro-managed are less resilient. It’s about finding these opportunities and then letting your child run with them.”
If you are concerned that your child is developing a stutter you can contact a speech pathologist. The speech pathologist will assess your child and recommend whether treatment is necessary or whether further monitoring is required.
Harrison’s advice to children facing challenges
- In order to learn you must make mistakes.
- Believe in your ability to overcome this challenge
- Trust in your parents and love them!
- Be realistic about how you will achieve your goals of overcoming your hurdles
- Love yourself and those who believe in you; they will help support you throughout this phase