Creating Mentally Strong Kids
Bringing up kids these days is both challenging and exhausting. While it may be a contested view, I believe that life really was much simpler when I was growing up, and I would suspect it was easier when you were growing up. The challenges around technology, societal expectations, education and changing modes and forms of work are all issues children will have to deal with. So what should parents do to help their kids to become mentally strong and resilient?
This is a difficult question to answer as we naturally want to protect and nurture our children.We also know that watching kids struggle, pushing them to face their fears and holding them accountable for their mistakes is tough. But these are the types of experiences kids need to reach their potential.Parents who assist their children to face the realities of the world and provide them with the skills and tools to thrive are setting their children on the path to happiness and success. I have identified five key ideas for raising mentally strong kids.
1. Live by your values
In today’s world it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day business of homework, part-time jobs, hobbies and sports practise. For many parents, life is so full that they can easily lose sight of what’s important in life. There is no more valuable time than time spent modelling your values, particularly regarding family. Parents who know their own values and ensure their families live by them are giving their kids a great model for life.
2. Accept your kids just the way they are
High expectations are healthy, but expecting too much from kids will only result in resentment and hurt.Wise parents recognise that their kids can’t and won’t excel at everything they do. Rather than push their kids to be better than everyone else, they focus on encouraging their kids to do their best and being happy with who they are.
3. Recognise the value of discipline
Punishment is about making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline is about teaching them how to do better in the future. Parents who recognise the difference are way ahead of the game. These parents do recognise the need for consequences when behaviour is inappropriate, however, their ultimate goal is to teach kids to develop the self-discipline they’ll need to make better choices later in life.
4. Allow your kids to make mistakes
As a society I believe we have lost sight of the value of making mistakes as a tool for learning. Whether your child gets a few questions wrong on her maths homework or she forgets to pack her boots for soccer practice, mistakes can be life’s greatest teacher. Wise parents let their kids mess up and they allow them to face the natural consequences of their actions.
5. Recognise that discomfort is a part of parenting
Kids by nature are going to push the boundaries. It’s their way of knowing what the boundaries are and working out how far they can go in pushing parents to do their will. When our kids whine about doing their chores it is often faster and easier for us to do their jobs for them. Similarly it’s easy to give into arguments about technology use, access to the TV or even what kids will eat for dinner. Giving in to kids is often the fast and easy option, however, it’s not the best option as it can teach kids unhealthy habits. One being that if I hold out long enough or make a big enough fuss Mum and Dad will give in. Wise parents hang tough even when it’s hard. Healthy and well balanced kids are worth the effort.
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