Allowing your child to fail will help them to succeed. These are good words to remember in your quest to raise ‘star’ children. As parents we all have the desire to see our kids excel and we sometimes don’t allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them. This over-parenting or helicopter parenting, is becoming an epidemic as parents go to great lengths to ensure that their children don’t fall behind or heaven forbid, fail. It’s not healthy for kids or parents – it makes for unhappy, resentful parents and children who ‘fail to launch’ in life and who may well end up on the couch at home after graduation.
By not allowing children to falter or experience disappointment, you render them helpless – the precise opposite of what most parents hope to achieve. Jessica Lahey, a teacher, writer for the New York Times and author of the book “The Gift of Failure”, states: “Today’s over-protective, failure avoidant parenting style has undermined the competence, independence and academic potential of an entire generation.” Ouch!
Parents meddle in all arenas and at all ages from toddlerhood through to high school. They insert themselves into activities best left for children to figure out for themselves: Yelling instructions from the side-lines at sporting events; helping too much with homework; questioning teachers about marks; interfering in children’s friendship problems…Parents are not helping their children to be resilient, motivated and to make good decisions for themselves or how to deal with bad decisions and the consequences.
Failure is brutal, ugly, unpleasant and hard to witness when it affects your children. Here are 5 tips to help you raise independent and confident kids:
- Let mistakes happen – start small, let your child experience the natural consequence of a mistake. Resist the urge to go and drop off that forgotten lunch box – your kid won’t starve.
- Motivate with Goals – don’t use rewards or bribes. Talk to your kids about what they hope to achieve and encourage them to set their own goals and try not to interfere if they are not the goals that you would have wanted.
- Quitting isn’t the end of the world – sure you may have invested a lot of time and money in those tennis lessons, but it’s no use trying to keep your kid involved in something at the cost of finding something else that they truly enjoy.
- Let them fight their own battles – it is so tempting to step in at the most minor infraction, just be there to support and offer guidance.
- A change of scenery – get them outside in a bad or sad situation. Nature, fresh air and physical activity and play puts everything in perspective again.