In our increasingly stressful lives, it has never been more important to instill and develop intellectual and emotional resiliency in our kids. Research has shown that mentally strong children are not only better prepared to face future problems on their own, but that they are also more likely to be engaged and successful at school and in their future career. It may not be easy for some parents, but avoiding the following common mistakes may help them a lot.
1. Don't try to stifle your kids feelings
Children need to know that expressing their emotions and talking about it is normal and positive. In saying things like "it's not a big deal" or "don't be sad about it" when they encounter a setback, you are teaching them that their feelings don't matter and that they should suppress them.
2. Don't try to save your kids from (all) failures
Of course, it's always painful for parents to watch their children struggle through difficulties and challenges that seem easy to overcome. However, failure is the way to success and children who are not given opportunities to learn from the lessons that come with adversity won't develop the perseverance needed to get up after falling.
3. Don't overindulge your kids
Children love stuff, and their parents love to give them a lot of things. Yet studies have shown that children who get all what they want often miss out on mental abilities such as self-discipline. It's important that kids grow up aware that it's possible to achieve anything they want, but they also have to understand that it's not a free lunch and that they have to earn it. Self-control can be taught by setting clear rules, such as finishing your homework before enjoying screen time or play time, for example.
4. Don't expect perfection (right away) from your kids
It's quite normal to want your kids to be the best and to have great goals. But it's not how the world works. Setting the bar too high can lead to subsequent confidence and self-esteem issues. It's better to build your children's mental strength by making sure their (and your) expectations are realistic and achievable. Setbacks will teach your kids useful lessons and solutions about how to be successful the next time.
5. Don't try to make your kids comfortable in all situations
Many circumstances may make your children feel uncomfortable, in particular when they do something unknown, trying new food, moving homes, going to a new school, making new friends, etc. But this is not bad news. Like failure, uncomfortable situations can boost mental power, a good reason to encourage your children to make discoveries. The more difficult part is to get them started, but once they have taken the first steps, they might be happy to realize that the task was not as difficult as they thought, and that they might even be very good at it!
6. Don't forget to set parent-child boundaries
Most parents want their children to make their own decisions, but on the other hand children need to know who is in charge. Mentally strong children generally have parents who know well the importance of boundaries and consistency. Allowing rules to be negotiated too often is a good way to foster superflant power struggles.
7. Don't hesitate to take care of yourself, as a role-model
The older we get, the harder it becomes to keep healthy habits, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, or taking time to rest and restore. Parents are essential role-models of self-care habits in front of their children.
Picture: Mother and daughter holding hands at the lake (Getty Images, w/Effects)