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The Grain Of Truth
15 April 2024

“The Grain Of Truth” – Help Kids Navigate Tough Times

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Tough times often become some of the ones we remember and grow from the most. Tough doesn’t always mean bad, even if things might be painful or uncomfortable these can be the times we get the most. But helping young people navigate them isn’t always clear. The Grain Of Truth is one tool you can use to help make it clearer.


“The Grain Of Truth” strategy aids children in navigating difficult times by encouraging deep introspection into their thoughts and feelings. This method not only boosts resilience but also helps in understanding and redefining behaviour towards achieving personal goals.

  • Engaging deeply with challenging feelings reveals underlying motivations, essential for effective coping strategies.
  • The “Grain Of Truth” involves questioning to unearth fears like rejection or failure, often driving avoidance behaviour.
  • Understanding core fears allows for healthier decision-making and behavioural adjustments in children.
  • It’s crucial not to validate avoidance, but to validate feelings, ensuring children feel heard and supported.
  • Regular use of this introspective method fosters resilience and strengthens relationships through patience and understanding.


“The Grain Of Truth” - Help Kids Navigate Tough Times

Understanding and confronting uncomfortable thoughts can lead to self-improvement and resilience.

  • Facing challenges increases resilience and self-awareness.
  • Digging deeper into thoughts reveals core motivators and truths.
  • Understanding deep motivators aids in forming healthy action plans.

When we encounter challenges and uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, we’re likely to want to turn away from it, to work in such a way that we don’t have to deal with it. However this is often the first step on a path to lower resilience and capacity.

By digging deeper into where these thoughts and feelings come from, understanding what they could be and what they might represent, we can reshape our approach and understand ourselves better. We can redefine and reappraise our behaviour, and adapt ourselves to be who we want to be.

Finding “The Grain Of Truth” means working through tough feelings and thoughts, sometimes that we’re not even aware of, to find what is at the core of it all. These deep motivators are the ones we need to find to be able to create a healthy plan of what to do next!

Digging Deeper with a Risky Kid

Billy Dean Is Bored

One of our Risky Kids is in class, he’s been with us for a little while now but is still early in his journey! He’s only attended the one term and so is just getting started. But Billy Dean has just started telling his parents “It’s boring” and he doesn’t want to go to class any more. 

This has happened before, most recently with his piano lessons, but before that gymnastics and soccer. This time though the family has got Team Risky Kids to help, so they touch base with the team.

They know that Billy Dean is bored, and that this means he wants to stop attending. But what they don’t know is WHY he’s bored, or WHY that makes him want to leave. This is the Grain Of Truth that we’ll need to look for!

When To Use The Grain of Truth

“The Grain of Truth” method is essential for addressing avoidance behaviours and building resilience.

  • Useful in any situation, especially with avoidance behaviours.
  • Helps explore deep-seated fears, anxiety, and discomfort.
  • Guides young people towards healthy conclusions and actions.

The Grain of Truth can be used in just about any situation! Working into deeper thinking and emotions is a powerful way to build resilience. But in particular, you should be using it in situations where there’s Avoidance Behaviour.

Any time that your young person is acting in a way to try and get away from discomfort, fear, anxiety or adversity you should help them explore it! That isn’t to say force them to face those feelings arbitrarily, or to use this as a way to make them keep going. Using this process is about finding the right information so we can guide a young person.

Often when we use this process, young learners will find their own way to a healthy conclusion, and sometimes we need to give them some guidance and suggest the courses of action we feel are best as the adults. But before that, we need to find the Grain of Truth.

Validation : We’re Not Alone

Validating young people’s emotions is crucial for navigating tough experiences effectively.

  • Recognize and validate tough emotions without dismissing them.
  • Avoid endorsing avoidance; encourage facing challenges with support.
  • Start conversations with empathy to make youth feel heard and supported.

Before you go digging, it’s important to recognise that tough emotions are tough! Especially for young people who might be facing them for the first times, we want to make sure that they know we’re taking their challenges seriously, even if we don’t think they’re that big a deal.

  • Validate Perspective: When someone is struggling, we can’t pretend they’re not. Always start by helping them to understand those feelings have a point, there’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed, or incapable. Help them feel like they’re not alone, and not broken: “It’s ok, everyone feels this way sometimes. Even me! Let’s talk about it, I’d love to understand how you’re feeling better.”
  • Don’t Validate Avoidance: But we need to stop before we tell them avoidance is OK. They need to be the one to decide that using our support. Never tell a young person “You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but…” or “I don’t want you to do anything that makes you unhappy, but…”. They will seize that and use it to calm their negative thoughts and feelings, and any attempt to take it back away will fail.

Start off your conversations with this validation tool, and you’ll find your Risky Kid feels heard and more comfortable with working through the next steps.

Finding The Grain Of Truth

Uncovering the “Grain of Truth” through deep questioning helps manage avoidance behaviours.

  • Avoidance emerges when obstacles threaten desired feelings of success.
  • Deep questions reveal underlying reasons for avoidance, enhancing decision-making.
  • Common fears like failure or rejection often drive avoidance behaviours.

Avoidance behaviour often emerges while people are in pursuit of things they want! We want to feel successful, or strong or confident and it’s when we start to hit obstacles between us and those feelings that we might give up.

Finding the Grain of Truth is about digging deep with questions to help find the real reason we’re trying to avoid something, and then compare it up against what it is we want. This gives us clarity and helps us make the best decisions.

Some questions to help you start looking for the Grain of Truth are:

  • “Why do you think you feel that way?”
  • “How do you feel about it now we’re talking about it?”
  • “Have you felt this way before?”
  • “How do you think this feeling/thought is helping you?”
  • “Is there anything you might not have thought about?”
  • “Is the way you’re feeling/acting helping the situation, do you think?”

Our objective in this process is to find the deepest feelings and thoughts. Often these are to do with fear. Fear of being hurt, fear of being judged, fear of rejection, fear of failing, fear of feeling unworthy or unloved, fear of the unknown. These are just some of the common fears that will be the “Grain of Truth” at the heart of avoidance behaviours.

What To Do With The Grain of Truth

Identifying the “Grain of Truth” is a starting point for informed, healthy decisions.

  • Sometimes avoidance is a healthy response to uncontrollable situations.
  • Address underlying issues, like self-confidence, with appropriate support and communication.
  • Balance guidance with allowing youth to make their own informed decisions.

Once we’ve found the grain of truth, what next? It’s not always easy to know, but that’s OK! The important thing is to move forward with it. It’s up to you and your Risky Kid to decide what the best, healthiest steps are. Sometimes avoidance behaviour is healthy.

For example, if a young person was avoiding a situation because they felt they had no control, but the situation was that there were other kids who were taking that control from them in an unhealthy way, then avoidance might be the best option. However in that same situation, if it meant our young person would miss out on things that were important to them, they might need to look for ways to get help or navigate that situation without avoidance.

Just the same, if a young person wanted to quit swimming lessons, the grain of truth might be that they feel like they’re not good enough or getting enough support from their teacher. Their teacher might actually think they’re doing amazing though, and feel they don’t need help! The healthiest action here would be to address the self confidence issue, as well as communicating needs to the teacher that the young person might benefit from extra challenge or praise.

It’s important to collaborate, balancing out letting your young person make decisions, but also guiding them towards making the choices that are best for them. When parenting, this can include some executive decision making at times.

Boredom Isn’t Always Boredom

Billy Dean’s Grain of Truth

Billy Dean’s family and Risky Kids team worked with him in a few mentoring sessions. They asked heaps of questions of him. They asked:

  • “Why do you think you feel that way?” and he said “I dunno”, then they asked;
  • “How do you feel about it now we’re talking about it?” and he said “bored”, then they asked;
  • “Have you felt this way before?” and he said “yeah, when I was at gymnastics, it was boring too”, then they asked;
  • “What part of it made it boring” and he said “I didn’t like the moves, they weren’t fun”, then they asked;
  • “When you say fun, what does it mean when it’s fun for you?” and he said “When they’re easy and I can do them”

And so we started to get closer to the Grain of Truth. But there was more digging to do!

  • “So when you can’t do moves, and they’re not easy you don’t do them?” and he said “Yeah”, then they asked;
  • “Do you think only doing Moves which are easy will help you grow?” and he said “no, I don’t think so, then they asked;
  • “How do you feel when there’s Moves you can’t do?” and he said “Upset”, then they asked;
  • “What about it makes you upset?” and he said “I don’t like people watching me”.

With this information, Billy Dean’s family and Risky Kids team decide it’s really likely he doesn’t want to do things he might fail at, because he’s afraid of failing in front of people and them thinking less of him. Because of that, in class whenever there’s a move that he’s not sure he can do, he starts to act up and do other Moves, calling the current one “boring”.

The team explores these feelings with Billy Dean and he agrees that this won’t help him grow, and that his Coach is going to take more time to work with him in classes, but also they have conversations with the rest of his class on things they’ve failed at which have helped them grow. Billy Dean not only keeps going with his classes, but he starts to be more tolerant to failing in front of people. When he does feel “bored” again, he tells his Coaches this time and they help him with that feeling to get back some control.

What’s The Point Of It All?

The reflection process fosters deeper emotional understanding and resilience among youth.

  • Teaches young people to critically assess their emotions and thoughts.
  • Strengthens relationships through patience, trust, and mutual understanding.
  • Empowers youth to overcome challenges by tapping into their resilience.

This process might seem a bit complicated to start with, but it’s worth investing the time in to develop as a family. Our team uses it regularly at Risky Kids as part of their toolkit, and it helps thousands of Risky Kids to face challenges daily.

This process of reflection is valuable for so many reasons. Firstly, it teaches young people that they can dig deeper into their emotions, and that not every emotion and thought is healthy or helpful. It gives them the tools they need to judge that, and the experience to do it more quickly and effectively each time.

It also builds deeper relationships with the people helping them through it, demonstrating patience and trust and a desire to help them be their best. It also helps us as the guides to get to know them, better, the things they’re afraid of or concerned about.

Most importantly, finding the Grain of Truth helps to mean that when we’re avoiding things for the wrong reasons, we can instead tap into our reserves of resilience and work through it to achieve the things which matter to us.

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming

Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.

Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:

  • Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
  • OCR World Championship Finalist –  Team & Solo (2015)
  • OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
  • Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years

Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:

  • Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
  • Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
  • Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX