You Have to Drop the Worry Ball to Raise Resilient Kids
Imagine that you are at the park with your three-year-old and she goes to play in the sandbox. You sit on the bench with an eye on your kid and eye on that cute baby in the stroller. Suddenly you see that your kid has stolen someone's shovel and hit the other kid with it. The other child's mother stands up, scolds your child and gives the toy back to her son.
What do you do?
A) Rush over and tell that mother that she had no business yelling at your sweet baby.
B) Rush over and re-parent your child and yell and threaten your child.
C) Pretend you didn't see it and rant at your child the whole way home.
And how do you feel, watching another parent discipline your child?
Most of us would jump in because if we just sat there, we would look like bad parents to the other parents - especially to the parent who stopped the sandbox scuffle. And Dr. Russell says that is a mistake because:
What do children learn if mom or dad always jump in like this? It actually distracts them from the world they’re interacting with (where they’re learning that people get really upset when you bonk someone on the head – an actual natural consequence) and puts it back on a parent who wasn’t involved in the first place, but is now threatening natural consequences.
They learn: When I screw up in the world, mom and dad get mad. If I can manage mom’s anger, I get to stay at the park.
Dr. Russell says that when we make an incident about us we are missing an opportunity to teach our kids about the real world. We shrink our kids' world down to our relationship and we deny them an opportunity to learn resiliency.
We want our kids to learn natural consequences which means we want to the world to teach them a lesson. But we, parents, are not the world. We isolate our kids from the world - that is our job. Unfortunately, modern parenting means that we are a little overzealous when it comes to that job.
In the "old" days, we lived in a village where each adult "was equally scary", says Dr. Russell, and kids learned that when they stepped out of line the world reacted negatively. Natural consequences doled out by strangers at parks, teachers, coaches and even the weather taught kids how to operate in the world. But now parents do everything and feel that our kids' behaviour is a reflection on us. Dr. Russell says:
The irony is that modern, obligated parents, working so hard to nurture emotionally healthy children, are increasingly raising children who are delayed in their emotional development because they have been given too much and protected too often.
Dr. Russell says we should parent LESS in many areas (and more in others). I have seen Dr. Russell speak twice on how to raise more resilient kids and each time I am struck with the idea of "dropping the worry ball".
I really want to drop that ball, how about you?
How would you react in a playground kerfuffle?
Want more chaos? Last year, I mused about princess culture and the big wedding.