Parenting is one of the hardest thing in the world to do. That’s why it never hurts to be reminded of a few basic truths.
The fact is, children need six things in order to grow up healthy, happy, confident, resilient, and best able to succeed in life: love, guidance, limits, protection, validation and respect.
1. LOVE: Children need love, of course, but not so much that they’re smothered. They need to be adored but they also need to learn accountability and autonomy.
Kids need to feel that they’re special, but not so special that everything they do is okay. They need to see that their parents can love them but also disapprove of their actions on occasion.
I grew up with a kid whose parents went overboard in telling him how great he was. It gave him a swelled head and a sense of superiority over the other kids in the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, I know some youngsters today who are getting lots of love and affirmation without their parents over-doing it, and these kids are confident, happy, calm and polite. They work hard and get along well with others.
2. GUIDANCE: Children need guidance, but parents ought not to be so directive that the kids never learn to think for themselves.
Kids need to be able to try things, mess up, and learn from their mistakes. They need to experience disappointment and failure in order to learn, grow, and develop character.
Children need guidance in order to become their best selves. They have to learn good work and study habits and understand the value of hard work, persistence and dedication to everything they do.
They need to be taught personal responsibility and accountability, so that they can learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals.
They need to learn compassion for other living things and a sense of responsibility for their family, community and planet.
They need to learn self-compassion so they don’t beat themselves up for their mistakes or shortcomings.
Kids need to learn how to play fair and follow the rules of their society, so that people will want to play with them when they grow up.
Sheryl Sandberg, in her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, talks about raising resilient kids by “helping children develop four core beliefs: (1) they have some control over their loves; (2) they can learn from failure; (3) they matter as human beings; and (4) they have real strengths to rely on.”
3. LIMITS: Children need limits, so that they can distinguish right from wrong and understand what’s expected of them. Saying “no” to a child helps build character, as well as frustration tolerance.
4. VALIDATION: Kids need to be listened to and responded to in order to feel validated, but parents still have to be in charge so that their children develop appropriately.
Sandberg says in Option B that when kids are “praised for trying” new or challenging things, they develop a “growth mindset” which enables them to “see abilities as skills that can be learned and developed.”
Sandberg says that kids develop resilience when they matter, and that this means: “knowing that other people notice you, care about you and rely on you.”
5. RESPECT: Children need respect, because this is the foundation of their self-worth. Their feelings need to be respected, as well as their opinions, their wishes and their bodies.
This doesn’t mean giving them everything they want or letting them do anything they want, but it does mean always thinking about what’s best for them.
Respecting a child means accepting them for exactly who they are and what they want, even if these are things that the parent doesn’t necessarily understand or agree with.
In the old TV show, Family Ties, two very Liberal parents raised a Republican son and accepted him as he was, even though his political view baffled them.
Heterosexual parents of LGBTQ kids respect their offspring when they accept their gender identity and romantic preferences.
6. PROTECTION: Children need to be protected, both from their own impulses and from the world. Protecting them will enable them to learn how to take care of themselves.
Children need to see their parents standing up for them, defending them and keeping them safe from harm. This will make them feel worthy and deserving of protection.
On the other hand, children don’t need to be so over-protected that they’re spared from any consequences of their mistakes or allowed to get away with just about anything.
Parents need to balance protection with their kid’s need to learn basic life lessons.
Overly protective parents cripple their children emotionally or turn them into selfish young adults who think that they can get away with any type of bad behaviour.
When parents give their children the above six things, the children will grow up with good self-esteem, a sense of confidence, plenty of self-respect and good self-care.
As a parent, it never hurts to think about how you’re parenting and to make the occasional adjustments. Increasing the appropriate love, limits, guidance, protection, validation and respect you give your kids can only be beneficial for them.
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