There are so many things parents hope to achieve when raising their children.
Yet one of the most important qualities – resilience – is becoming a victim of the growing trend for “helicopter parenting”.
Of course, most parents love their children and want the best for them, and helicopter parents are no different.
What is Helicopter Parenting?
However helicopter parents are misguided in what is the “best” for their children, and as a result over-protect, over-control, and over-manage their lives – even as they grow into young people, and into adulthood – to try and ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, despite their best intentions, it tends to have the opposite effect. Parents who hover over their children and make all their decisions for them are really doing them a disservice.
The parent may in fact be driven by their own anxiety; or ego driven, wanting to see their children grow up to be “just like them”; while other parents see their children as their own purpose in life – which makes it hard to let go even once children have grown up.
But the end result is all too often that children and young people grow up with low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression. Because they have been protected from challenges and consequences for their behaviour, when they do eventually meet adversity in adulthood, they will not know how to face or manage them. They will lack resilience.
What is Best for the Child?
The reality is that we will all experience hurts, disappointments, challenges, and adversity in life.
When a child grows up feeling loved and secure, able to learn and grow in a safe environment, they can also learn resilience.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress and the hurts and disappointments in life.
So how can parents best support their children to become happy, emotionally healthy young adults?
Hard as it may be to allow, children need to struggle sometimes, to grow and learn from their experiences. They need to experience the pain of mistakes, failure and disappointment – because this is how they can build strength, confidence, and a strong belief in their own ability to overcome obstacles and succeed.
While we may want to protect our children and wrap them in cotton wool, it is just not helpful in the long run. It is said that millennium babies and now young people, are the most protected and programmed generation in history – and it is doing them more harm than good.
Children need to work for their self-esteem, and parents who worry too much and excessively shield their children from every little negative occurrence are only developing dependency in their children.
Additionally, when children are micro-managed and over-protected, they develop a false sense of entitlement – expecting everything to go their way, and to get what they want, regardless of consequences. This is not the most pleasant quality, in children or adults!
Building Resilience in Children
There are a number of ways in which parents can be instrumental in building resilience in their children. These include:
- Acting as role models, guiding and teaching their children by example to problem solve and make decisions. It is a normalising and learning experience when children see how parents overcome disappointments and adversity.
- Building confidence, by listening (without criticism or excessive advice), to their children’s ideas, their ups and down, their failures, and conflicts.
- Avoiding labelling children in a negative way (for example, telling a child that they are “not as smart” as their big brother).
- Exposing children to positive social support – friends and family – who also care for them, and where children can feel their contribution is valuable. This allows children to develop a sense of confidence, competence and personal control.
- Trusting (in age and development appropriate ways) in their child’s ability to cope, without consistently rushing to their rescue for even minor things.
- Encouraging the child to take safe, but considered risks, with support.
If you would like your children to grow into confident, less fearful adults, and would like to find out more about building resilience, please make an appointment to see me. It is my passion to help and support as many parents and their children as possible.
Author: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.
As a registered teacher and psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping individuals and couples at any stage of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
To make an appointment with psychologist Dr Jan Philamon, try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422 or M1 Psychology on (07) 3067 9129.