Are you an empowering parent, raising resilient kids?
Of course, parents love their children and will do just about anything for them.
However, supporting them to become happy, emotionally healthy adults does not mean we have to save them from every little issue, over-protect them, rush to their rescue, and micro-manage everything they do and think, in a bid to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Actually, parents who hover over their children and make all their decisions for them, are really doing them a disservice, as we will soon see.
Why Raise Resilient Kids?
Happy, optimistic, independent children, capable of making their own decisions, are resilient children.
In contrast, children who are over-protected, over-controlled and over-managed are more likely to develop low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression, where their ability to succeed on their own is threatened.
Saving children from challenges and consequences for their behaviour, means that when they meet difficult challenges and consequences in adulthood they will not know how to face or manage them as part of life.
Previously, their parents have always been there, shadowing them and solving all their problems for them. Consequently, fear and anxiety grow.
The reality is that all children at times need to struggle, to grow and learn from their experiences. Sometimes they will ‘fail’ – and that’s okay. Learning from each of their so-called failures builds strength, confidence and a strong belief in their ability to overcome obstacles and succeed.
While we may want to protect our children from every failure, it is just not helpful in the long run. It is a popular opinion that the millenniums are now the most protected and programmed generation in history, and that it is doing them more harm than good.
Importantly, children need to work for their self-esteem, and parents who worry too much and excessively shield their children from every little negative occurrence are only developing dependency in their children who, as they grow, are not learning how to trust their own decision-making ability and coping skills. Hence, such children tend to grow into anxious, fearful and sometimes depressed adults who lack resilience.
Additionally, while micro-managed children certainly feel confident that they are loved and protected by their parents, they can also develop a sense of entitlement. They become demanding, and expect to get everything they want, including the avoidance of negative consequences, as well as to receive rewards they have not earned.
The Rise of Helicopter Parenting
So what has driven some parents to excessive involvement in their children’s lives?
Most parents would tell you that they just want to protect their kids, and want them to be successful in an overly competitive and dangerous world.
However, there is often a hidden agenda here. Frequently, it is the parent’s anxiety, not so much their good intentions, that drives their over-protective tendencies.
Also, it can be the parent’s purpose in living that drives them to hover excessively over their children. They are happy to look after their children – including their adult children – forever. Hence, it is popular for adult children even into their forties and beyond, to continue living with and being cared for by their parents.
Other parents are ego driven, in that they want their children to be “just like them”, and will control and manage everything about their children’s lives, including steering their career choices, right into adulthood.
Ideally, children should feel loved and secure, growing and learning in a safe environment where they are also learning resilience.
What is Resilience Exactly?
As no one is born with resilience, what exactly is it – and how can parents help their children to develop it?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress and all upsetting situations, challenges, disappointments, trauma, or adversity.
There is no doubt that all children require nurturing relationships while they are growing and learning. They don’t have to do it all alone and be fiercely strong and independent, especially while they are facing any kind of adversity.
Tips for Parents
The role of parents, therefore, is to act as role models, guiding and teaching their children by example to problem solve and make decisions. It is a normalising and learning experience when children see how parents overcome disappointments and adversity.
Parents are also helping to build confidence when they listen without criticism or excessive advice, to their children’s ideas, their ups and down, their failures, and conflicts.
By contrast, it is demoralising if parents label their child in some negative way, perhaps, for example, telling them they are “not as clever as their sister”.
Parents can also help by ensuring their children are exposed to positive social support, where they meet people who also care for them, and where the children feel they can contribute. This develops a stronger level of confidence, competence and a growing sense of personal control over their lives.
When it comes to raising resilient kids, parents need to develop a sense of trust in their child’s ability to cope, without rushing to their rescue over every little thing and keeping them in cotton wool.
It is when children are encouraged to take safe, but considered risks with support from adults, that they will indeed grow into confident, less fearful adults, capable of developing their potential and being the best they can be.
If you need help in developing resilience in your children, please make an appointment to see me. It is my passion to help and support as many parents and their children as possible.
Author: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.
As a registered teacher and psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping individuals and couples at any stage of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
To make an appointment with psychologist Dr Jan Philamon, try Online Booking – Loganholme or Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129, or Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.