Have you heard the phrase “helicopter parent?” It describes a mother or father that ‘hovers’ around their child 24/7, overseeing their life to keep them from every potential danger, pitfall and mishap. It looks good on paper, but this kind of parenting forgets one important fact of reality: life happens.
Adversity happens to all of us. Those children who engage with adversity in their formative years learn how to handle it well and come up with strategies and solutions. These are the kids that grow up to be resilient, getting right back up when life knocks them down a few pegs.
Here are some ways parents can raise resilient children:
Plant the Right Mindset
How your child sees the world and their own potential in it directly informs how they make decisions. Teach them a positive and empowering mindset from the beginning. Teach them that failure does not exist, only learning what works and what doesn’t. Failing grades and losing games aren’t the end of the world, though they may feel like it. What really matters is the commitment and effort they put into reaching their goal.
Don’t Meet Their Every Need
A child will never be able to develop their own coping strategies if someone is there every second making sure they never become hurt or disappointed. Do your best to NOT overprotect your children and give them some space to figure it out all on their own.
Help Your Children Connect
Social children who are well connected to others feel a sense of support and resilience. Authentic relationships provide a safe space and a person to talk to about their feelings. Help socialize your child as soon as possible so they can form deep connections on their own as they grow.
Let Them Take Some Risks
All parents want to keep their kids safe, but there comes a point when you’ve got to let go a bit and let them learn HOW to be safe on their own. For instance, one day your child will need to get their driver’s license. You can help that older child be a safe driver by allowing their younger self to ride their bicycle around the neighborhood. This will teach them to pay attention, look both ways, etc.
Teach Them the Right Skills
Instead of focusing on the ‘danger’ or uncomfortableness of a situation, teach your child how to navigate it. For instance, if he or she is going away to summer camp for the first time, brainstorm some ideas of how they can learn to be comfortable away from home. Pack their favorite blanket. Talk to them about calling you at certain times to check in. Teach them how to solve their own problems. This is one of the greatest gifts parents can give.
Resiliency isn’t something that’s automatically handed down to kids; it’s something that must be instilled and molded over time. Planting these seeds now will set your child up for success in their future.