People often say that their biggest worry is what will happen to their children and their grand-children when they are gone. It is one thing to hand on a substantial estate – generally built through years of hard work, discipline and planning. It is another to be confident that our children and grand-children will themselves have the discipline and the emotional resilience to make the most of the opportunities that they are presented.
Growing resilient, passionate kids in affluence
We all as parents are doing our best to raise self-disciplined, appreciative, and resourceful children who are not spoiled by the prosperity around them. So why does it seem that the more we give them, the more ungrateful and entitled some children become? How can we use the advantages they already have to move them from striving to thriving?
MISTAKE: We cotton-wool our children from experiencing risk
Our own parents sent us out to play and didn’t call us in until dinner was ready. Someone always came home with a black eye or a nail in their foot. So why has parenting swung so far towards protecting our kids that we are preventing their growth and thriving?
Safety regulations, legal litigation and a heightened awareness of the dangers in our environment have turned us into over protectors. The “safety first” obsession plays into our fear of losing our kids, so we do all we can to shield them from harm. If a child doesn’t play outside, climb too high and fall, they frequently have phobias as adults.
STRATEGY: Let your kids explore their environment rather than the Internet
Let children play in a physically, emotionally stimulating and challenging environments that involve risk, and they may grow into better adjusted and more confident adults.
STRATEGY: Encourage your kids to try a new skill, especially if it frightens them
From public speaking to rock climbing, kids need to fall a few times to learn it’s normal; teens need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to understand the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require.
MISTAKE: We rescue too quickly
Ever been the recipient or sender of a message to a fellow parent trying to sort out your childrens’ friendships? While this may look like sticking up for your child, it deprives them of the chance to stick up for themselves. By swooping in and intervening on behalf of our children, we are depriving them of the opportunity to encounter an obstacle and navigate around it. We are robbing them of the skills needed to solve problems independently. We are offering short-term relief and long-term low self-esteem.
STRATEGY: Let your children solve their own problems
Guide your child through a series of open questions towards finding their own solutions to their challenges. You are there to support and console them, but not to fix the problem. From a tough friendship dynamic to an academic concern, ask your child to brainstorm ways of solving the problem, all the while supporting and nurturing them.
MISTAKE: We praise too easily
Life is about winning and losing, not just winning. When Mum and Dad are constantly telling their children how clever/ pretty/talented they are, they doubt the objectivity of their parents and learn to cheat, exaggerate and lie and to avoid difficult reality.
STRATEGY: Praise for Effort not Result
Praising children’s intelligence can encourage them to embrace self-defeating behaviours such as worrying about failure and avoiding risks. However, when children are taught the value of concentrating, strategizing and working hard when dealing with academic challenges, this encourages them to sustain their motivation, performance and self-esteem.
MISTAKE: We try to be friends with our children and treat them all ‘equally’
Your child doesn’t need a friend in you, they need a parent. We may want them to like us so much that we try to avoid making the tough calls that may disappoint or frustrate them.
With multiple kids, when one does well, we feel it’s unfair to praise and reward them unless we also praise and reward their sibling/s. This is unrealistic and misses an opportunity to enforce the point to our kids that success is dependent upon our own actions and good deeds.
STRATEGY: Parent your children don’t befriend them
Your child does not have to love you every minute. Sometimes they need to be disappointed and frustrated by you in order to understand that conflict and boundary-setting are part of any healthy relationship. Your kids will get over the disappointment of not going to the hottest party or buying the latest gadget, but they won’t get over the effects of being spoiled. So tell them “no” or “not now,” and let them fight for what they really value and need.
STRATEGY: Parent each child according to their needs
Your children have different shoe sizes, different wants and needs and different personalities from their siblings, so you can’t parent them as if they were the same person. Treat each child as an individual and celebrate their uniqueness.
MISTAKE: We don’t practice what we preach
As parents, it is our responsibility to model the life we want our children to live. Children are very capable of pointing out the double standards we have and are the first to catch us out if we tell them to do as we say not as we do.
STRATEGY: Live in your integrity
If we want our offspring to be accountable for their words and actions, we have to be too. Show your kids what it means to give selflessly and joyfully. Work on your own passion and commitment and your kids will learn to be passionate and committed. Communicate clearly, respectfully and honestly. There is no point shouting at kids that they have no manners or respect when you are demonstrating the same trait.
MISTAKE: We give our kids our money, not our time
We work hard and we’re time poor. There is always another email to answer or another phone call to make. We may be doing all this hard work so our kids can benefit but when we rush from the chaos of the day we may miss the ordinary moments that our kids crave with us. We may compensate by buying them wonderful gadgets or throwing them great parties but nothing makes up for time.
STRATEGY: Prioritise time with each other
Turn the electronics off and have a real conversation. Speak about the highlights and lowlights of your day, ask them about theirs. Make your questions count, and listen to the answers. Make a special family time so that everyone knows Saturday afternoon or Thursday evening is just for the family.
Source: LaTrobe Financial