It is only natural when our children are faced with loss, failure, disappointment or rejection that we want to step in, take away the loss, ease the pain of failure, counteract the disapointment and reverse the effects of rejection . Nothing breaks our hearts more than hearing our kids lament that they had no-one to play with. Nothing can bring us down like seeing the look of complete devastation on a child who tried so hard, but still didnt make the team. We want to mend the friendshift rift, buy a replacement for the toy that just broke and somehow get them into the “A” team, because we know they really are the best. But are we really helping our kids, or merely helping to facilitate their dependence on us? Are we sending them the message that when things dont go to plan, simply wait for someone to step in and make the changes needed to suit their every whim. If we want to help our children build their resilience and independance therefore, we need to view these moments not as problems we need to solve, but rather as great opportunities for our children to learn and grow.
I am not suggesting we go all out and ignore their pleas for compassion, understanding and encouragement, but simply put….
lets not always bail them out!
When a child gets put in a class with no friends, rather than heading straight to the principals office to have him moved, explain to your child that this instead is a great way to make new friends. When we get out into the workforce, it is very rare that we are able to choose our work colleagues. There will be some we click with and there will be some we have absolutely nothing in common with, but still we need to do our work to the best of our ability, in whatever the environment. Likewise they may not always get on with every teacher, but then how many of our bosses become our best mates? Broken things can’t always be replaced, friendship groups cant always be manipulated, we cant sit their exams for them and we cant have them picked for the athletics team ahead of the faster runners.
By allowing our kids the opportunity to go through these experiences we are instilling in them valuable coping skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. When they are left to their own devices, children are able to develop their own skills. They can adapt their thinking and behaviour and they are left better equipped to deal with situations that may not always be to their liking. Despite what we have often been teaching them recently, kids can accept the disappointments…it is usually us parents that have a much harder time.
Of course there are always going to be times when we need to interfere and go into bat for our children, but this should be limited to the times when there is a real risk of physical or psychological safety. Even so, the focus should still remain on the support and teaching we can give to the child, in order for them to learn the skills necessary to deal with the problem.
So next time your child is pestering you into making changes that dont need to be made…think of this simple saying (or say it to them as we do, which seems to reinforce the notion that we ain’t bailing them out)……”sorry sweetheart, you’ll just have to suck it up.”
Oh and by the way…no-one was hurt in the taking of the attached photo, as that may have been an example of a time when we should have stepped in to help our kids!