Constant societal pressure and the need to overachieve in a challenging world is putting a lot of pressure on the kids. From being burdened in studies to outperform everyone else to trying to become exceptional in sports as well to gain a few more accolades, kids these days go through a lot of external competition which can sometimes manifest into burnout.
Jennifer Breheny Wallace, an award winning journalist, conducted a first-of-its-kind national parenting survey with the help of Harvard Graduate School of Education. In her survey and study, she discovered a parenting style that was hurting children’s confidence and self esteem.
“Parents who raise the strongest and most resilient kids create an environment that allows them to make mistakes and not fear failure,” Jennifer told CNBC. She mentions three points: first, a parenting style that harms kids, then about what successful parents do differently and she ends it with how to show the kids that you actually know their worth and value.
When parenting leads to a false self belief
Critical parenting involves criticism and depreciation over doing a regular chore. It can also reflect in ways of constant comparisons, belittling them in front of others and not recognizing their efforts or hard work.
Jennifer writes that the most successful parents often steer clear of employing a critical parenting style. When parents resort to criticism and comparisons, for example, comparing something as little as their writing style with their classmates or putting forth conditions to be fulfilled before you shower them with love, this makes them inferior and in a constant race with themselves.
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To deal with this emotional pain, children tend to hide their true selves, molding themselves into what they believe their parents desire or require them to be. This coping mechanism can result in the development of a “false self,” an artificial facade adopted as a strategy to secure the love and support vital for a child’s survival.
This is one of the rewarding strategies adopted by parents
She mentions that one of the rewarding parenting strategies is to “create an environment that allows them to make mistakes and not fear failure.” Her point here is that even when you do not like a certain action or behavior, you need to be mindful about how you express your disappointment. It is essential to remember that even though you might not like what they did you still love them.
Hence, even while expressing your concern over the action or disappointment over it, be sure to be mindful and not say things that can hurt them or their self confidence.
“ So much of our lives as parents consist of getting our kids to do things they don’t want to do, teaching them lessons, setting them up for future success. But something gets lost when our relationships don’t include enough time just enjoying each other, delighting in what is inherently lovable about our kids,” she told the media.
The crux of her statement was to make parents and guardians understand that parenting and raising kids is not just about teaching them, making sure they achieve their goals and securing their future. Parenting is also loving your kids for who they are. It is also about being happy and just letting them be the adorable creatures they are.
Show them that they are valued
It can be claimed without doubt and debate that children who are born into and raised by non-problematic families, between love, care and affection grow up to be loving individuals who know their worth. They are also less prone to falling into negative mental health conditions because they are given a loving environment where they can express their feelings better without being judged and compared.
Spending time with your children once they come back home from school or college, asking them about their day or even being interested in the gossip they want to share is a great way of letting them know that they are seen and heard.
Further, it is essential to be aware of the hard work they put into both menial tasks and their studies. While a handmade card loaded with sketch pens and glitter seem small to you, for the child it is hard work, they did for their parents. So, make sure that no achievement, be it education or general, should go unnoticed. Similarly, while competition is inevitable and you would want your child to be better than the neighbour’s kid, it is important to understand that academics and scores fluctuate. Do not let a 24 out of 30 make your child fear you or your words.
Thus, while it is important to set your kids up for success, it is also essential to let them be themselves and engage with them as equals. It will not just help their confidence but also give you the happy time you both deserve.