How to Advocate for Your Child While Allowing Them to Develop Resilience
It’s only natural for parents to want to help kids avoid the pitfalls of life. This can include problems with bullying, friendships, schoolwork, and teachers. When children are going through a difficult time or feeling stressed, most parents will try to step in and resolve the issue.
Advocating for your child when necessary is important. Helping your child avoid problems altogether can delay their development. Studies have found that kids who never get the opportunity to experience frustration and failure are less resilient and more anxious and entitled.
To become successful adults, kids need to learn how to regulate their emotions and deal with the consequences of poor choices. These tips will help you navigate the fine line between advocating and over-parenting.
Assess the Situation
When your child comes home from school in tears, it’s very easy to react emotionally. The problem is that when you’re in a heightened emotional state, your judgement is clouded.
Allow your child to vent, but don’t take any action until you can assess the situation with a cooler head. When your child has calmed down, ask them again to tell you why they were upset. Use gentle questions to get to the bottom of the matter. This will help you determine what really happened, and if you need to take any action. If your child was at fault, use this moment to teach about consequences.
Avoid Fixing Mistakes
Kids are going to mess up now and then. They might forget to take their homework to school or skip it all together. They may be disruptive in class and get a detention. They might even be involved in bullying other students.
It’s tempting for parents to try to smooth over mistakes. This includes rushing homework to school, writing notes with excuses or ringing the teacher to get a child out of detention. Covering for kids teaches them that they can get away with anything. This prevents them from becoming accountable for their actions.
Model Good Communication
Much of the angst kids experience at school is due to interpersonal relationships. Sometimes it’s a clear-cut case of bullying. Other times, conflict is over childish disagreements and personality clashes. Kids can also react badly to a teacher because they simply don’t relate to them.
If you’re called into the school to discuss any conflicts or behaviour issues, avoid taking a defensive attitude. Instead, model good communication skills by practicing active listening. Make the effort to consider all perspectives and show empathy for everyone involved. This will teach your child how to resolve conflicts in a calm and productive way.
Your goal as a parent is to raise a child who becomes a happy and self-confident adult. To achieve this, kids must learn to stand up for themselves. This means taking a step back as kids get older and allowing them to manage their own problems.
You can encourage this mindset from an early age by talking with children about strategies they can use to cope with problems. Unless the matter is serious and requires immediate action, try to avoid intervening until they’ve had a chance to resolve things themselves. This sends the message that you have confidence in your child, and that they have agency.
Resilience and self-confidence are among the greatest gifts you can give your child.