Thoughts for Parents
Kids act out to get help and are frightened that they will leave home without what they need to deal with the issues in life.
The “old” values turn out to be good values: Children and teens need chores and responsibilities, and consequences when they do not do them. This is a critical lesson parents need to teach their children so that they can be successful in life
Let children know they make decisions all the time, and that they can make different decisions, and that all decisions have consequences
Ask children to help with the concern or issue and let yourself be surprised at the positive reaction – but you have to be sincere
The unconscious cannot resist repetition - any behavior repeated daily for 3 weeks becomes a habit – this is a way to change bad habits
With a kid who is shut-down, stop talking and get physically active
Everybody makes mistakes – we are here to learn – that means we need to make mistakes
Kids will experiment – they are supposed to (remember your own childhood)
Don’t rescue or protect kids – they need to learn that they can do it on their own – that builds confidence and strength
Teens want to be heard so parents need to listen. They don't have to agree but they do have to listen
* Source: Ilene Dillon, MSW et al
13 things parents who raise mentally strong kids refuse to do
Amy Morin, Oct 8, 2017
Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength doesn't make you immune to hardship and it's not about suppressing your emotions.
In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks and it gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.
But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common — yet unhealthy — parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, "13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do,” I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid who is equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges.
1. Condoning a victim mentality
Striking out at the baseball game or failing a science test doesn't make a child a victim. Rejection, failure, and unfairness are a part of life.
Refuse to attend your kids' pity parties. Teach them that no matter how tough or unjust their circumstances, they can always take positive action.
2. Parenting out of guilt
Giving into guilty feelings teaches your child that guilt is intolerable. And kids who think guilt is horrible won't be able to say no to someone who says, "Be a friend and let me copy your paper," or, "If you loved me, you'd do this for me."
Show your kids that even though you feel guilty sometimes — and all good parents do — you're not going to allow your uncomfortable emotions to get in the way of making wise decisions.
3. Making their kids the center of the universe
If you make your entire life revolve around your kids, they'll grow up thinking everyone should cater to them. And self-absorbed, entitled adults aren't likely to get very far in life.
Teach your kids to focus on what they have to offer the world, rather than what they can gain from it.
4. Allowing fear to dictate their choices
Although keeping your kids inside a protective bubble will spare you a lot of anxiety — playing it too safe teaches your child that fear must be avoided at all times.
Show your kids that the best way to conquer fear is to face those fears head-on and you'll raise courageous kids who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.
5. Giving their kids p0wer over them
Letting kids dictate what the family is going to eat for dinner or where the family is going on vacation gives kids more power than they are developmentally ready to handle. Treating kids like an equal — or the boss — actually robs them of mental strength.
Give your kids an opportunity to practice taking orders, listening to things they don't want to hear, and doing things they don't want to do. Let your kids make simple choices while maintaining a clear family hierarchy.
6. Expecting perfection
Expecting your kids to perform well is healthy. But expecting them to be perfect will backfire. Teach your kids that it's OK to fail and it's OK not to be great at everything they do.
Kids who strive to become the best version of themselves, rather than the best at everything they do, won't make their self-worth dependent upon how they measure up to others.
7. Letting their kids avoid responsibility
Letting kids skip out on chores or avoid getting an after-school job can be tempting. After all, you likely want your kids to have a carefree childhood.
But, kids who perform age-appropriate duties aren't overburdened. Instead, they're gaining the mental strength they need to become responsible citizens.
8. Shielding their kids from pain
Hurt feelings, sadness, and anxiety are part of life. And letting kids experience those painful feelings gives them opportunities to practice tolerating discomfort.
Provide your kids with the guidance and support they need to deal with pain so they can gain confidence in their ability to handle life's inevitable hardships.
9. Feeling responsible for their kids’ emotions
Cheering your kids up when they're sad and calming them down when they're upset means you take responsibility for regulating their emotions. Kids need to gain emotional competence so they can learn to manage their own feelings.
Proactively teach your child healthy ways to cope with their emotions so they don't depend on others to do it for them.
10 Preventing their kids from making mistakes
Correcting your kids' math homework, double checking to make sure they've packed their lunch, and constantly reminding them to do their chores won't do them any favors. Natural consequences can be some of life's greatest teachers.
Let your kids mess up sometimes and show them how to learn from their mistakes so they can grow wiser and become stronger.
11. Confusing discipline with punishment
Punishment involves making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline, however, is about teaching them how to do better in the future.
Raising a child who fears "getting in trouble" isn't the same as raising a child who wants to make good choices. Use consequences that help your kids develop the self-discipline they need to make better choices.
12. aking shortcuts to avoid discomfort
Although giving in to a whining child or doing your kids' chores for them will make your life a little easier right now, those shortcuts instill unhealthy habits in your kids.
Role model delayed gratification and show your kids that you can resist tempting shortcuts. You'll teach them that they're strong enough to persevere and even when they want to give up.
13. Losing sight of their values
Many parents aren't instilling the values they hold dear in their children. Instead, they're so wrapped up in the day-to-day chaos of life that they forget to look at the bigger picture.
Make sure your priorities accurately reflect the things you value most in life and you'll give your children the strength to live a meaningful life.
Amy Morin is the author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do” and regularly writes about parenting issues on Inc.com.?
Top 15 Things Your Middle School Kid Wishes You Knew
1. Respect me. I'm my own person, not just your kid. Sometimes I might have opinions that differ from yours. Sometimes I just want to be your baby. Respect me either way.
2. I still want to have fun with you, and feel like home is safe and happy. Smile at me.
3. I need to make some of my own choices, and maybe some of my own mistakes. Don't do my work for me or get me out of every jam. You don't need to be better than me at everything. Don't condescend; you don't need to impart your elderly wisdom on me if I have a problem. Please wait for me to ask for your help. If I don't ask for it, I might want to work it out for myself. Let me rant without offering advice. Sometimes that's all I really need, just to talk my way through something and for you to just listen to me.
4. Sometimes I'm going to be moody and annoyed and frustrated. You need to just let that happen (though you shouldn't let me be rude to you; that's weird and embarrassing). It might just be a mood or something might be going on that I'm not ready to talk about yet. If you hang around doing stuff near me and don't interrupt or try to solve it as soon as I start, I might feel comfortable talking with you about things.
5. Trust that I'll do my work. If I don't, you can help me manage my time, but wait until I'm not taking care of responsibilities to think I can't. Don't just assume I can't handle responsibility because of my age. Believe in me.
6. It feels really good when you ask me to teach you about what I'm learning or what I'm good at. You don't have to be awesome at computer programming to let me teach you some cool stuff, for instance. I have to be a beginner constantly. Show me it's OK to stay relaxed and present when you are struggling to learn something.
7. I don't like the drama either, and it surprises me as much as it does you. You think it's rough having this alien lunatic in your house? Try having it in your body, and you can't even get away.
8. If you don't like my friends, it feels like you don't trust my judgment or like I am stupid about choosing friends. Or both. Ask me what I like about them, or what we have fun doing together, or just to tell you about a new friend. Stay open-minded. Still, if you think my friends are being bad to me, I need you on my side that much more.
9. Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed and need to zone out for a while. I am not becoming a slug and will not stay in my room staring at a screen for the rest of my life. Maybe just for the rest of the afternoon.
10. I will fight you every step of the way if you make me do stuff I don't want to do (get some exercise, do my homework, write a thank-you note, practice piano, apologize to my sister, take a shower, wear deodorant... so many things), but you should probably make me do them anyway. I know I will feel better if I sweat and shower each day, and develop my study skills, and show up tomorrow prepared, and, and, and. I know! But please don't overwhelm me. I might not be able to do what I should right away. I might need reminders, later, which will annoy me completely. Remind me anyway.
11. Explain why I'm being criticized or punished. It feels scary if I don't understand anything beyond that you are mad at me. And sometimes what I need more than a scolding is a hug or a cuddle. Especially when I am more porcupine than puppy.
12. I need to have private jokes with my friends and not explain them to you. It's how we bond. You don't need to be involved in every aspect of my life to still be loved and needed by me.
13. If my social life gets to be too much, I may need you to force a little vacation from it on me. But most of time what I need is to work through how to navigate life online and with peers. Now is my chance to learn how to deal, with your help. Just shutting it down keeps me from learning how to build my life online with scaffolding provided by you. Stay calm and cool, let me explain what's going on, and talk things through with me. Ask more, tell less.
14. Especially if I've been feeling stressed, maybe you could just hang out with me. Go to the park or get an ice cream or have a catch, whatever; it feels good to just do something together without discussing or solving or teaching anything.
15. I like it when you think I'm funny. Or interesting. Or awesome. I actually do care what you think about me. Please find something specific you actually like about me because sometimes I can't find anything in myself to like at all. I might roll my eyes, but your words and judgments do matter to me, and I will remember them, the good and the bad. I will keep them with me like treasures even when I lose my keys and wallet and ID. Which I probably will. More than once. Sorry. And bonus extra important thing you should know: The fact that my opinions on this and anything else might change tomorrow does not mean I don't feel them fiercely today. Keep up. I love you. Remind me you still love me, too.
5 Apps That Should Terrify Every Parent
According To Experts If you see these on your teen’s phone, it’s time for a talk.
The internet can be a cesspool of danger for some teenagers, says Sedgrid Lewis, an internet safety expert who blogs under the moniker Spy Parent. Some of the apps that teens favor can expose them to predators and encourage them to engage in unsafe behaviors.
According to the child safety website PureSight, one in five teenagers has received an unwanted sexual solicitation online, and 75 percent of teens share personal information online. In almost all underage sexual predator cases, teens went willingly to meet with the predator.
Which apps do parents of teens most need to be aware of? Here are a few that Lewis and others have flagged:
1. Yubo (formerly Yellow)
Yubo has been called “Tinder for kids,” and is marketed to 13- to 17-year-olds as a way to make new friends. But it also allows young kids “to pretend to be adults and swipe left or right to hook up,” Lewis said. Yubo has more than 15 million users worldwide, despite vocal concerns about allowing children to use it.
The police department in Lenexa, Kansas, issued a warning last summer about the app, noting that “it embodies one of the most dangerous aspects of social media: It allows teens the ability to easily meet people (strangers) outside their parent’s sphere of knowledge or control and ... matching [them] with another person geographically near them, facilitating face-to-face meetings.”
The app changed its name in December from Yellow to Yubo and did some rebranding, but Lewis said the developers may have changed the name “in order to circumvent the accountability.”
Yubo’s creators put in some effort to improve awareness and education on using the app safely, Wayne Denner, an online reputation specialist, wrote on his website Digital Ninja. Since rebranding in December, Yubo added technology to detect fake profile pictures; hired a child online safety consultant; required that users have a mobile number to register, which is recorded and verified; and added an abuse reporting feature to inform the company of inappropriate activity.
But Denner noted there is still no age verification when you create an account. That means that the door is still open for adult sexual predators who lie about their age and create fake profiles to lure children. Fake profiles on all social media platforms remain a huge problem.
Sarahah is an “honesty” app that allows users to send anonymous direct messages to their friends through other apps such Snapchat. It was designed to provide positive encouragement in the workplace, but turned into what Lewis called “the No. 1 cyberbullying app.”
The app was so controversial that it was removed from Apple and Google stores on Feb. 21 because of complaints. A Change.org petition that called for the app’s removal was organized by the mother of a girl who was encouraged to take her own life by a Sarahah user; it garnered 470,000 signatures. But the fact that Sarahah was booted off app stores doesn’t mean that it was taken off anyone’s phone. It just means that people can no longer buy it, which should significantly limit its future spread.
Sarahah was at one point the most popular free download in multiple Apple and Google Play markets around the world, beating out even Facebook, Snapchat, and Netflix. It was introduced in late 2016 by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq as a website intended for employees to give anonymous, honest feedback to their employers. After some success in Arabic-speaking countries, Tawfiq rolled out an English version that caught on rapidly with teens worldwide ? and may still be on their phones.
Reddit apps that easily enable kids to access inappropriate material should be monitored by parents, said Lewis. Anyone with the official Reddit app can go to the popular subreddit “Reddit Gone Wild” and find a ton of NSFW images and even straight-up porn. Users ? including underage ones ? must click a button saying they’re 18 years old in order to access it, but there’s no verification. And Reddit rules don’t prohibit nude selfies from appearing, as long as they are voluntarily posted by the selfie-taker.
In addition to labeling the app as for ages 18 and up, there are warnings on the Apple Store download page that mention sexual content, nudity and “frequent/intense mature/suggestive themes.” It’s hard to tell if that stops anyone or just makes it that much more tantalizing to lie about your age to use the app.
Lewis said there is nothing to stop a minor from clicking that button saying they are 18 ? except maybe a parent.
Vora is a fasting app that teens with eating disorders are using and abusing. The app blew up at the end of 2017, when “water fasting” — a diet in which followers consume nothing but water, against medical advice ? became a fad. Vice reports water fasters logged their fasts using Vora, sharing their results on Instagram.
While intermittent fasting may have some health benefits, those living with an eating disorder are using the app to celebrate and promote anorexia, said Lewis. They created a community within the app, sharing usernames on “pro-ana” forums to motivate and encourage each other to fast for longer.
Vora isn’t the only health and fitness app being abused. On pro-ana forums, people with eating disorders regularly swap information about their favorite apps, including MyFitnessPal, Eating Thin, Toilet Tracker, CalorieKing, Plant Nanny, Chronometer, and Carrot Fit (an app that encourages weight loss by hurling abuse at users and electrocuting an obese avatar when diet goals aren’t met).
Omegle is a live-streaming video and chat app that exists solely so that strangers can talk to one another. Yes, strangers. It also has a website that can be accessed on a mobile device and is a platform that parents should have on their radar, said Denner. It’s been around since 2008, and remains “not so well-known amongst adults,” he said, but is popular with teens and preteens.
Here’s the app’s description on the Omegle website: “Omegle (oh·meg·ull) is a great way to meet new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick someone else at random and let you talk one-on-one. To help you stay safe, chats are anonymous unless you tell someone who you are (not suggested!), and you can stop a chat at any time. Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”
Most parents will go on high alert over that last sentence. And should, said Denner.
Warning Signs for Bullying
There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help. It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others.
These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.
Signs a Child is Being Bullied
Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs. Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
• Unexplainable injuries
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
• Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
• Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating.
• Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
• Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get help right away.
Signs a Child is Bullying Others Kids may be bullying others
• Get into physical or verbal fights
• Have friends who bully others
• Are increasingly aggressive
• Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
• Have unexplained extra money or new belongings • Blame others for their problems
• Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
• Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Also known as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADD, is not a mental illness but a “brain-wiring” issue that affects 10% of the population. While usually seen in childhood, particularly in school settings, it remains alive and well for many into adulthood and can cause problems in jobs and relationships.
This disorder is a biological condition much like near-sightedness or diabetes and needs to be treated. You would not want your child to have to struggle in school unable to see the board in class; you would make sure he or she had glasses to succeed in school.
While it may seem like your child or teen ignores your requests or forgets to do chores, this is not a case of willful defiance or “laziness” or being “stupid”, it is a symptom of ADHD. Your child or teen does not know what their problem is either except that it upsets their parents and teachers and they feel like they are letting everyone down.
Untreated,AD/HD leads to anxiety and depression which become more serious issues.
Treated, the child becomes more responsive in class, listens to parents at home, does his or her chores and feels better about her or himself,
It is easy for a qualified mental health provider or medical doctor to diagnose AD/HD and to suggest ways, using medication and other behavioral techniques to reduce the effect of the disorder.
If your child or husband or wife is easily distracted, loses things, cannot sit still, starts but doesn’t finish projects or has a difficult time staying organized or even reading a book, taking a look at AD/HD could help to improve everyone’s lives.
How to Use Rewards
Set achievable goals. If your child doesn’t believe they can achieve their goal, they won’t try. A good rule of thumb is that your child should earn their reward about 75% of the time.
Rewards must be desirable. Choose rewards your child actually wants. Whether they admit it or not, most children want the attention of their parents. Never underestimate the power of a smile or a hug. Sometimes these little rewards can be more powerful than anything else.
Praise behaviors instead of traits. For example, if your child gets a good grade, praise their hard work instead of their intelligence. If your child believes they passed a test because of their intelligence, what does it mean when they fail a test? Also, praising a behavior such as hard work will lead to more hard work, but traits like intelligence are outside of your child’s control.
Give rewards regularly and consistently. Instead of offering one big reward for a long-term accomplishment, try offering smaller rewards along the way. Children have a hard time waiting for distant rewards, making them less effective. Regular rewards keep children motivated.
Catch your child being good. Is your hyper child sitting still? Let them know you notice!Try to catch your child being good—no matter how minor it seems—at least 3 times a day. The best way to end a bad behavior is to reward the opposite good behavior.
Always follow through. If you promise a reward but don’t follow through, your child may not take you seriously next time. However, every time you do follow through, your promises gain credibility.
Be clear about rewards and how to earn them. Specify what exactly rewards will be (rather than "extra TV", say "30 minutes of extra TV") and what your child needs to do to earn them (“hang up your clothes, put away toys, and vacuum the floor” rather than "clean your room").
Don’t take away rewards that have already been earned. If your child earns a reward and then gets in trouble for something unrelated, let them keep the reward. You can use a consequence for the negative behavior, but it should not affect the reward. Taking away rewards can lead to a constant sense of defeat when the child works hard but never sees positive outcomes.
Reward good habits instead of good outcomes. For example, reward your child if they study for an hour each night, instead of rewarding them for an “A” on a test. Even though it seems obvious to adults, many children don’t know how to get an “A” on a test. Use rewards to teach your child habits that will eventually lead to the ultimate goal.
How to Use Consequences
Create a few simple and clearly defined rules and consequences. Children have a hard time understanding a long or complex list of rules, and there’s no chance for success if they don’t know what the rules are.
Always follow through. The threat of a consequence will quickly become meaningless if the consequences never actually happen. It’s tempting to feel sympathetic and let your kid off the hook, but this will lead to more problems down the road.
Don’t overdo it. Many parents have a habit of dishing out extreme consequences when they’re upset. When punishments are too extreme, parents often let their children off the hook once they have cooled down, or when the punishment becomes too inconvenient for the parent (e.g. having to monitor the child all day). This tells your child that the consequences are not serious.
It’s okay to be flexible. You want your child to do the dishes, but they’re in the middle of a video game. Instead of telling them to do the dishes “right now”, give them a reasonable timeframe. Try this: “I need you to finish doing the dishes within the next hour”. How would you feel if you were watching your favorite show, and your partner demanded you do the laundry “right now”?
Take away privileges. Removing TV or phone privileges can be very effective. However, avoid taking away things that are beneficial for your child. If your child calms down by playing guitar, or they strive for good grades so they can play on the basketball team, don’t take those away.
Never use corporal punishment, shaming, or humiliation. Children who receive corporal punishment—including spanking—learn that violence is an appropriate response to their problems. They tend to be more aggressive with other children, and they carry this into adulthood. Shaming and humiliating your child can irreparably damage your relationship and cause significant distress.
Don’t give up your leverage. If you take away everything, there’s nothing left to take away. Don’t put your child in a position where they have nothing to lose.
Sometimes it’s better to ignore bad behavior than to punish it. Children may purposefully use bad behavior to get attention. Even negative attention is better than no attention. If your child’s behavior isn’t dangerous or destructive, it’s okay to ignore them until they stop.
Choose your battles. So, your child has picked the clothes up off the floor, and put them in the dresser, but the clothes aren’t folded neatly. Let it go! Ask yourself: “Is this problem really that important right now?”
© 2019 Therapist Aid LLC 2 Provided by TherapistAid.com
Biggest Vaping Study Ever Links E-Cigs With Heart Attacks and Depression
Tobacco smoking adults that use electronic cigarettes have a significantly higher chance of myocardial infarction (a heart attack), as well as coronary heart disease and depression, according to the largest-ever study conducted on the public health effects of what many people refer to as vaping. The research study findings, published in a press release, will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans, which begins on March 16.
Research on the impacts of vaping has been mixed, with some studies suggesting that vaping could help smokers hooked on traditional cigaretteskick their addiction. But the authors of the research being presented at the upcoming conference note that compared to those who do not smoke, adults that vape are 56% more likely to have a heart attack and are 30% more likely to suffer a stroke. Additionally, when controlling for cardiovascular risk variables such as age and body mass index, e-cigarette users were 55% more likely than nonusers to suffer from depression or anxiety.
“Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Mohinder Vindhyal, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita. “These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”
An estimated one in 20 Americans now use e-cigarettes, and e-cigs have been linked to a rise in teen smoking for years, due in large part to those tempting vape pen flavors that can lead some teens toward traditional cigarette smoking.
Excerpted from: PARENTING:
You Need to Teach Your Kids To Fail. Here’s How.
By Caroline Bologna
You Need To Teach Your Kids To Fail. Here’s How.
The Importance Of Failure
“Parents who give permission for kids to fail are building social and emotional skills and qualities that last a lifetime ? persistence, positive self-image, self-confidence, self-control, problem-solving, self-sufficiency, focus and patience,” Kim Metcalfe, a retired professor of early childhood education and psychology and author of Let’s Build ExtraOrdinary Youth Together, told HuffPost.
But allowing your child to fail almost seems to go against nature, noted Jessica Lahey, a teacher, journalist and author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.
She said that parents feel bombarded by frightening headlines along the lines of “it’s impossible to get into college today” or “the next generation of kids is unlikely to do better economically than their parents.”
“When faced with those sorts of scary scenarios, we tend to go into ‘protective parent mode,’ which is evolutionarily rational,” Lahey explained. “But we’re reacting to things that aren’t actually threats. It’s not a threat that our child can’t get into Harvard. It’s not a threat that our kid is not the top-scoring player on the soccer team. It’s something that’s beneficial for them to have to experience.”
“Failure is part of life, and if our children don’t have the opportunity to fail or make mistakes, they’ll never realize they can bounce back. That’s what resilience is all about.” - MICHELE BORBA
Because parents have the instinct to protect their children from failure and disappointment, it’s necessary to take a step back and understand what real threats are versus what’s actually just part of growing up.
“Failure is part of life, and if our children don’t have the opportunity to fail or make mistakes, they’ll never realize they can bounce back. That’s what resilience is all about,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. “Your child doesn’t learn to bounce back because you told them they could but because they experienced it. Then when the problems get really huge, they’ve got that gumption inside to realize, ‘Hey I can do this!’”
The Problem With Lawn Mowers
“We can’t plow everything out of the way,” said Lahey. “If this college admissions case is any example, they’ve just set their kids up for failure. Lori Loughlin’s daughter, the Instagram influencer, has become a laughingstock, and now her life is open to scrutiny in a way it wasn’t before.”
Parents who bribe their kids into colleges they’re not equipped to attend are not solving any problems, but rather creating a situation in which their kids will struggle, she continued. This will ultimately erode their sense of competence and self-esteem.
One of the best ways to help a child build his or her sense of self-esteem is to separate your own self-worth as a parent from your children’s accomplishments.
Rather than mowing down obstacles, parents should encourage their children to try and fail and try again.
Like everyone, parents tend to look for concrete indicators of success and progress. But because there are no parenting report cards or performance evaluations, they simply look to their kids’ achievements and co-opt them.
Lahey noted that this is part of what psychology professor Wendy Grolnick calls the “Pressured Parent Phenomenon.”
“Parents think, ‘My child made the traveling soccer team, so that means I get an A for my parenting,’ or ‘They won the science fair. That means I’m an A+ parent,’” Lahey explained, noting that this feeds into the temptation to mow down any obstacles or challenges kids may face and deprive them of the opportunity to fail.
Obviously no one wants to watch their children fail, but they need to in order to learn to react to failure in a positive and constructive way.
“The most effective teaching tools we have require kids to get frustrated and work through it to the other side,” Lahey said, pointing to the concept of “desirable difficulties” ? educational tasks that require a considerable but ultimately desirable amount of effort in order to enhance long-term learning.
“To benefit from desirable difficulties, kids have to be able to get frustrated, redirect themselves, take a breath, reread the instructions and stick with it long enough that they can overcome that frustration and actually feel that sense of competence when they actually work it out,” she noted.
Lahey encouraged moms and dads to parent from a place of trust and focus on “autonomy supportive parenting” (giving kids more control over the details of a task and allowing them to get frustrated and work through it) rather than “directive parenting” (laying out exactly how to do things and making them follow through).
“Parents think, ‘My child made the traveling soccer team, so that means I get an A for my parenting,’ or ‘They won the science fair. That means I’m an A+ parent.’” - JESSICA LAHEY
“We as parents are really good at trying to make our kids feel confident. But confidence is like this empty optimism,” said Lahey. “Competence ? when kids actually push through, figure something out, try something, screw it up, do it again, and get to a place where they really achieve something ? that’s where real self-esteem lies, not in someone telling you you’re smart over and over again.”
How To Teach Failure And Resilience Every Day
Parents can incorporate lessons of failure and resilience for their kids in their everyday lives. For instance, Lahey recommends showing young children how to load the dishwasher and then asking them to do it. Inevitably, they will do something wrong, but it’s a learning opportunity.
“If there’s still egg stuck to one of the plates, you can show it to them and say, ‘Look, because this wasn’t rinsed off, it’s all stuck on there. So let’s work together to get this off, and next time you’ll remember that this sticky yucky egg may still be stuck on there if you don’t rinse first,’” she explained.
When she goes to the airport with her own children, Lahey sometimes budgets extra time so that when they arrive she can turn to them and ask, “OK, where do we go? What do we do first?” That way when they eventually do travel alone, they will feel comfortable navigating an airport.
Lahey acknowledged that these types of experiences often require additional time and planning, but it’s worth it. “Giving them age-appropriate tasks that are fairly low stakes helps them get to a place where when things get to be higher stakes, they’ve got it,” she said.
Parents can incorporate lessons of failure and resilience for their kids into their everyday lives.
Growing up, Lahey’s son loved a local chocolate shop and asked if they could go there one day. She pulled up to the store, handed him a $5 bill and told him to “go for it!” He refused because he didn’t want to go in by himself, so they left. They repeated this exercise many times over the course of a year until finally one day, he decided he could go in by himself.
“That was a turning point for him about being afraid to talk to people in stores,” she recalled. “Now it’s no problem for him, and that was a low-risk, child-friendly way for him to overcome something that really freaked him out.”
Lahey also recommends having older kids fill out their own school forms and call to schedule their own doctors’ appointments. “These are things that feel like stupid busy work to us, but they’re actually great moments of accomplishment for kids,” she said.
Books also provide a great opportunity to teach failure and resilience. Borba is a fan of Fortunately by Remy Charlip, a children’s book about a boy named Ned who finds himself in some tough situations.
“Every time he has an ‘unfortunate,’ he turns it into a ‘fortunate,’” she explained. “Every page is about how to flip the unfortunate into a fortunate, so kids see that everybody has unfortunates.” Other children’s books that teach lessons of failure and resilience include Rosie Revere, Engineer; Whistle for Willie; The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do; The Little Engine That Could; Nobody Is Perfick; I Made a Mistake; Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days! and Mistakes That Worked.
The Power Of Brainstorming
Borba recommends making brainstorming part of kids’ day-to-day experience to help them practice coming up with solutions to problems.
“When your child makes a mistake, don’t berate the child for the mistake but make it into a question of ‘What are you going to learn from it?’ ‘What’s one way you could do that differently?’ or ‘OK, let’s figure out what to do next,’” Borba noted. “If they realize that inside their brains are opportunities to keep thinking of a different option, then they’re less likely to make the mistake again.”
She pointed to what she calls the “pocket problem-solver” method ? using your hand as a brainstorming tool. For your thumb, ask what the problem is. Then name three things you could have done differently for your pointer, middle and ring fingers. Then your pinkie is what you’re going to do next time.
“When your child makes a mistake, don’t berate the child for the mistake but make it into a question of ‘What are you going to learn from it?’ ‘What’s one way you could do that differently?’” - MICHELE BORBA
For older kids and teens, parents can respond to mistakes and failures by saying, “It’s OK, we can do it again. Let’s figure out another option.”
Borba believes they should own up to their mistakes and be involved in the process of figuring out other options or solutions: “Let’s say your teen is failing a class. Ask, ‘What do you want to do? How about setting up a conference with the teacher? How about getting a tutor?’ Involve them in the ‘how abouts.’”
With older kids and teens, Borba also recommended using news stories as a jumping off point for conversations. The college admissions scandal is actually a good example.
“Ask your teen, ‘Have you heard about what these parents did? How would you feel if I did something like that?’ It’s great to get their reaction,” she said. “Often the real news stories, especially if they involve teens, are a way in, and if your kid isn’t opening up, ask, ‘What do your friends think? What are other people saying about it?’ It’s powerful.”
Kids Need To See Their Parents Struggle
Sharing stories of past failures and how you moved on can be beneficial for your children, but what’s even more helpful is keeping your kids in the loop as you face adversity in the present. “Sharing current failures allows parents to share the entire thinking and behavioral processes they engage in, which models persistence but more importantly delivers the message that no matter how old we are, we fail, we persist and we learn,” Metcalfe said. Consistently modeling resilience can help kids develop a glass-half-full attitude.
There are age-appropriate ways to be open about failure and make it clear that mistakes are acceptable in your household. Borba noted that parents don’t necessarily have to admit all their biggest failures to their young children (“Oh no, I’ve just gone completely bankrupt! What do I do?”), but it’s OK to openly say, “Oh gosh, I just messed this project up.”
“The wonderful thing is adding ‘but next time I’ll ....’” Borba explained. “For instance say, ‘Wow, I just completely blew the time frame. I thought I’d be able to get out the door on time, and now I’m so late. But next time I’ll set my alarm earlier!’”
It's helpful for parents to be open about their own mistakes and failures.
In Lahey’s house, they lay out three things they’d each like to accomplish over the next three months, and one has to be “a bit scary.” Her goals have included submitting work to new publications, taking guitar lessons for the first time and even studying Algebra I in her 40s to get over her “math-phobia.”
She believes it’s a powerful learning opportunity for kids to see their parents try new things that are scary and could lead to mistakes and know that it’s OK.
“My kids watched me do it, screw it up and try again,” she said. “That’s the most effective thing we can give them, yet we seem to hide it because we want them to think we’re perfect or something ? which, as many already know, we’re not.”
Ultimately, fostering a growth and resilience mindset in your child is something that takes time and effort. “Realize that a one-time talk isn’t going to change him or her,” Borba said.
Still, these are lessons worth teaching, so keep encouraging your child to try, make mistakes and see failures as a learning opportunity. With time, you’ll raise a human who’s comfortable facing adversity and able to overcome challenges. This is what every parent fundamentally wants ? not a Yale acceptance letter.