As parents, our first instinct is to shield our children from pain. Some of us try to spare them discomfort, and make their lives as easy and stress free as possible. Many of us try to raise the road to meet our children, rather than raising our children, to meet the road.
While we all want our children to be happy, some of our efforts to manage our children’s environments can actually thwart their ability to develop resilience.
Resilience is like a muscle, it gets stronger with use.
Our job as parents is to coach our children through life’s disappointments, rather than try to clear all minor hardships from their path. In efforts to protect, we can inadvertently hobble.
Children who know they can get up, brush themselves off, and keep going. These are the children that develop the resilience to navigate some the more difficult challenges that life can sometimes throw their way.
Tips for parents:
1. Ask yourself: Am I consistently doing something for my child that they are actually developmentally ready to do for themselves? If so, stop now.
2. Emphasize that failure is a part of learning. If we never fail, we are not challenging ourselves enough.
3. Value process over outcome. You want your child to be comfortable learning and taking chances, rather than having a myopic focus on success.
4. Create opportunities for your child to help others. Giving back and helping others bolsters self-confidence and minimizes a sense of entitlement.
Here’s to raising resilient children!
Aliza Mendel, LCSW