Parenting our children nowadays can be the most challenging task we have. Every parent’s goal is to raise happy, healthy, and productive adults. As simple as this idea seems, an increasing number of children are moving into adolescence and early adulthood feeling unsatisfied with themselves and their ability to manage their lives. Parents are spending too much time hovering over their children and overprotecting them from the normal stresses and anxieties of life (aka: helicopter parenting).
As a result, children are growing up having no idea how to reorient themselves and go through normal processes after experiencing discomfort or distress. It is important that parents begin to see this type of parenting as debilitating our children. As we create more space for our children to fall, grapple, and learn, we help them create antibodies that will strengthen their “psychological immune system” for their future.
How can we raise strong, happy, and confident adults?
· Allow your children to experience the normal frustrations of daily life. Give them the chance to try new things, test the limits, fall, and get hurt so that they can learn how to recompose themselves and see that everything is still OK.
· Take one step back. That way, children can experience and learn about the world on their own terms but in the safe and supportive environment that parents have provided.
· Let children separate and individuate. Grant them space to explore their own passions and desires rather than being influenced to fulfill your hopes and needs as a parent.
· Tell kids the truth. Children oftentimes know the truth anyway and feel confused and conflicted when we tell them lies to protect them from suffering. Telling kids the truth instills confidence by showing them that you know they can handle it, increases the trust and bond between child and parent, and increases emotional security.
· Be realistic. Treating your children as though they are the center of the universe may work in childhood but isn’t the reality of their life once they enter adulthood. Showing them more realistic perspectives about life will help them once they’re older. Saying things like “we don’t always get what we want” or “sometimes life is not fair” shows children the reality of adulthood.
· Set limits and boundaries. Many times, parents allow children to get away with a lot because they don’t want to see them upset. Children thrive off limits and boundaries. It helps them feel safe and secure knowing their parents have control and are in charge. Saying “you can only have 30 minutes of screen time a day” and following through with the limit will have a much larger payoff for both the child and the parents.
Reference: Gottlieb, Lori. How to Land Your Kid in Therapy. The Atlantic (2011): 64-78. Print.
Jennifer Galvan, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, California. Dr. Galvan has several years of training and experience in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and has been part of many podcasts and seminars around the topic of parenting. For more information, visit Dr. Galvan’s website at www.galvanpsychology.com or follow @dr.jennifergalvan on Instagram.
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