Our society has become
structured around immediate gratification and self-absorption. In an effort to avoid some costly pitfalls
secondary to our societal norms, each section of this newsletter addresses
valuable lessons for parents and their children, at any age.
In today’s world, the search
for a stable identity is a major challenge of early adulthood. It begins in childhood.
Parents can get caught in the
trap of wanting their children to have more than they had as children without
realizing that receiving things that should be earned is a disservice to the
child. Thechild learns work ethic,
confidence, and perseverance by earning privileges and toys.
Parents can mistakenly
believe it is their responsibility to make and keep their child happy. A happy childhood is wonderful, but it does
not mean a childhood without learning experiences from mistakes and
disappointments. We must experience
sadness to understand happiness; loss to value what we have; and disappointment
to appreciate joy.
Parents can confuse the
appropriate desire to protect their young from harm with the inappropriate wish
to prevent their children, adolescents, or young adults from suffering any of
life’s hardships. Of course, we would
never want our child to burn their hand on a hot stove or run into the
street. That is appropriate protection
from harm. However, it is better for a
person to learn as a child how to manage misunderstandings in child-appropriate
relationships and develop effective problem-solving skills than to be
ill-equipped as an adolescent or adult to handle life’s hardships that are
bound to happen.
One way confidence is built is by successfully navigating a difficult
situation and knowing you can handle it again, should you have to. As a child, it would be important to have a
parent walking along and encouraging the child, but also allowing the child to
have an age-appropriate part in actively solving the problem.
If a parent continually
rescues the child or gives the child everything and more than what is needed or
age-appropriate, the child can develop a sense of entitlement and/or
dependency. The adult child will become
overwhelmed and paralyzed by frustration, unable to manage significant life
decisions (college, marriage, jobs) on their own. This places them at risk for depression,
eating disorders, and substance abuse.
The child may boomerang back home and never leave, expecting mom and dad
to continue to finance their lives or the lives of their children.
parents of young children are aware of these issues now, they can evaluate
their parenting style and make necessary adjustments to better ensure their
choices are ones that will prepare their child to leave the nest independently
and feel confident in the decisions they make.
It will not protect them from disappointments, but they will be more
prepared to handle the disappointments in an effective, responsible, and more
Key Concepts to Consider for Confident Kids:
1. Children will, and should, experience some
disappointments and hardships. Help
contain your child’s frustrations so he can learn to manage the frustrations
and losses that are a part of everyone’s life.
If he learns to do this effectively with you by his side, he will be
more likely to do this independently as an adult.
2. Provide a good education for your child – in
school and at home. Encourage
perseverance and assist as appropriate, when the work gets hard. Avoid
the temptation to do the work for him. Doing the work for him sends the
message that he is not smart enough or talented enough to do it
himself. He will develop confidence and a sense of
accomplishment if he completes something that is a challenge.
3. Teach an appreciation for hard work. If a child earns a privilege or toy, she will
appreciate it more than if it is given for no reason. She will learn the value of objects and
become thankful for what she has if objects are not given in abundance, or
immediately replaced if she is careless with them; or receives a newer model as
soon as it hits the market. Learning to
earn, or work hard for what you want, teaches ambition.
4. Model the value of self-sufficiency and the
ethic of responsibility. Children learn
more by watching than by listening.
is something that is often misunderstood.
It is not aggression or
anger. Aggressive communication
sounds threatening, critical, or out of control. Being assertive means to state your needs, thoughts, or feelings in a
calm and direct manner. The opposite
of assertive communication is passivecommunication. Passive communication is indirect, requiring
mind-reading, which none of us can perfect.
It leads to assuming, which can create misunderstandings in
relationships. Below are some examples
of aggressive and passive statements and the more effective assertive
Aggressive: Shut up!
Passive: You better quit… (with a glare).
Assertive: Please do not interrupt me when I am talking to someone else.
Aggressive: Leave me alone or you’ll regret it!
Passive: (Going to your room without an explanation).
Assertive: When I am tired, I would like some time alone to rest. After I rest, then we can talk.