In a world where participation certificates are given out at every sporting event, there is 0 scoring in most sports for under 13’s, red pen and F’s have been banned at some schools for looking too aggressive and kids have continual instant gratification through the internet, iPads and social media, it has me wondering, have we taken things too far?
What are we really teaching our kids? Ok, so we have to give our kids self-esteem, we have to give them confidence but how do we do this without creating kids that feel entitled.
It starts from a very young age on the playground. Parents find it hard to give their kids space to roam and explore, to go up to groups of other kids and figure out for themselves how to get in on the fun. God forbid the other kids don’t want to play. Better make sure mum is right there in case you child gets rejected (insert sarcasm).
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be there for our kids and every parent finds it hard not to interject on our kids behalf but what happened to simply letting our kids figure it out for themselves, not being there to save them at every possible moment where they might not get what they want and fall in a heap.
I’m not saying we should ignore our kids if they are sad or disappointed, I’m just saying that we should acknowledge our child’s feelings and then move right along. Don’t dwell, don’t blame other parties, don’t leave it to the teachers to sort out, just point our kids in a direction where they can try and figure out for themselves the next best thing to do.
Something I try to do with all of my kids from a very young age is to allow them to experience calculated risks. Let them take risk’s that are within reason, age appropriate and supervised. This could mean anything from letting them stand on the edge of the platform on the jungle gym and letting them peak over the edge. Let them see for themselves and make their own decision “what would happen if I took one more step here”. If we grab them down immediately how are they going to learn to assess risk for themselves?
Another game I play is the delayed gratification game. Lux, you can either have two marshmellows now OR if you wait, I will buy you an ice-cream after your swimming lesson. Ok, so junk food is not the best example but you get my drift.
Be there, but let them make a decision on their own. It’s our job to teach our kids how to make decisions and deal with the consequences after all we aren’t going to be in their pockets forever.
I don’t tell my kids they are amazing ALL of the time. I know Autumn’s capacity in the art world and if she scribbles some picture that has taken her no time at all, I’m not going to tell her how wonderful it is. I would sit with her and get her to explain to me what is going on in the picture. Noticing and giving attention to the effort is enough if not more flattering then passing something off as fabulous when you know it’s not their best work (bearing in their mind age and ability).
When my kids loose or get beaten in sport, board games or in general around the house I’m not going to race around looking for someone to shove a participation certificate in their face. I use it as an opportunity to see that they can’t win all of the time. Someone can be better on the day and it really doesn’t matter. You participate because you want to, not just because you will win or get a prize at the end.
I’m going to teach my kids that it’s good manners and sportsman like to go up and congratulate the other person. If you love it, then lets give it another go, if you really didn’t like participating then let’s go and do something else. Building character in our children by teaching them empathy for the other kids that didn’t win is gold. Once they know the feeling themselves won’t that make them empathetic towards other kids who didn’t quite get there either? It would be such a special feeling to see my children showing kindness to others in these situations.
It has been said that kids these days are lacking empathy. Empathy is the ability to recognize emotions being experienced by another human being. If all of the focus is on your child and their feelings (good or bad) they aren’t learning to respect and have consideration for others feelings.
The over use of praise has been said to have created a generation of self-obsessed, unmotivated kids. Kids only have to look in the right direction and someone is patting them in the back telling them how wonderful they are.
I am ALL for praise, don’t get me wrong but I am also for giving credit where credit is due. Listening to our kids and really being there for them is far more effective than giving them a trophy for achieving minor things. What is going to happen when they enter the work place? Are they going to expect a bonus every time a deal is done or a contract won? Life doesn’t work that way. They will be deflated and disappointed and struggle to be self-motivated to achieve if they aren’t constantly rewarded and praised if this is all that they know.
There are so many contributing factors which can make this important life skill or resilience hard to learn which is all the more reason we need to be fully aware of ways in which we can teach. Wrapping them in cotton wool and not giving them age appropriate tasks is not going to do them any good. Having kids too scared or unsure as to be confident in their own unguided decision’s is not prepping them for the real world.
Give your kids the room to make mistakes. Let them fail. Making mistakes and failing are not a direct reflection on their happiness and self-esteem. They are just temporary situations in which we give our children confidence and responsibility to make decisions, deal with consequence, be resilient, own their own lives and be self-motivated to achieve more.
Sharing, empathy, resilience, kindness, love, humility……. It is our job to teach and more importantly it is our job to model this behaviour.
After all, at the end of the day, the only person responsible for our happiness and actions is ourselves.
Let’s teach them how to own it.
Are there things you deliberately do to help teach your kids these emotions?
Please comment below. I would love to hear your feedback and ideas on how we can teach resilience.