4 comfy yet chic outfit ideas to get you ready for a post-lockdown world

Edaein OConnell

8 predictions for the 2021 Best Picture Oscar nominations

Jennifer McShane

This terraced home in Donnybrook is on the market for €1.45 million

Megan Burns

Alice Ward on her Irish surf film featuring the female surfers who call our wild...

Lauren Heskin

‘They won’t stop until she miscarries’: Chrissy Teigen is right to defend Meghan Markle

Jennifer McShane

5 ingenious small space design ideas inspired by real homes

Lauren Heskin

Susan Jane White shares her scrumptious ‘I can’t believe it’s beetroot’ beetroot chocolate cake

IMAGE

In defence of cacao from a daily cacao practitioner

Niamh Ennis

The weekend shopping fix: dopamine dressing and beauty that gives back

Holly O'Neill

Image / Self

‘If we mollycoddle our children, they’ll never gain resilience’: 7 ways to raise confident kids


by Amanda Cassidy
24th Aug 2020

We need to raise more risk-takers and adventurers, so how is disaster hyperbole and overprotectiveness affecting children?


Born cooked. That’s my mother’s way of describing how some children come into the world with strong personality traits that can only come from their ‘nature’. My daughter came out as the most independent little thing, my son was born a rogue, and my smallest veers towards the super sensitive.

Their little personalities swirl and shape according to the world around them. Their traits enhanced or stunted depending on how we parent them, their environment and their interactions with others. But is it possible to influence things like grit and determination?

And how can we boost confidence in our little ones along with a healthy amount of self-esteem, happiness, security, and love? (While keeping their nails clean, making sure they are drinking enough water and giving them as many opportunities as we can to be a future sports star or say, a robotics engineer…)

Related: Peaceful parenting: Who has time for that?

For the most part, it is instinctive.

We puff them up with praise when they do something positive. We exclaim wildly over their latest scribble masterpiece and tell them over and over again how wonderful they are.

But parenting is a delicate dance, and one of the hardest parts is knowing when to let your child struggle, in order to learn and grow, and when to intervene.

Generation snowflake

A lot has been talked about in relation to the ‘snowflake’ generation – an unhelpful term that is thrown at young people of a certain age because of an inclination towards the self-pity, a group that doesn’t have the tools to deal with some of life’s challenges because parents inadvertently overprotected them.

It is a natural instinct to keep your offspring safe but there comes a time to let them go out and make their own mistakes.

The danger is that we are raising our young on a diet of disaster hyperbole.

Of course, not everyone in that generation can be cast with this label, but generational fragility is a real phenomenon. Employers talk about young employees that take everything too personally. University lecturers note that students are genuinely distressed by ideas that run against their own view of the world.

Parents complain about their almost-grown children unable to take responsibility for their choices or to show resilience in the face of adversity. How did it happen, and how can we ensure we give our children the tools to cope with the world around them?

Healthy risk

Teens are supposed to be risk-takers and adventure-seekers. But the danger with today’s parenting is that we raise our young on a diet of disaster hyperbole. We remove every possible threat, we promote panic and then wonder why our young adults are paralysed with fear the minute something goes wrong for them.

Related: The four words that will change how you parent forever

We can’t eliminate all risk from our children’s lives – they will be less daring with less freedom. And it’s not just parents, teachers too, are part of the problem.

Health and safety fears mean our little ones are denied resilience-building freedoms like running in the yard, playing conkers and climbing trees.

Fall seven times, stand up eight

Studies have shown that resilience comes not from failing but from the experience of learning that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, try again, and again, and again, and eventually succeed. That requires at least some experience of success, lots of emotional support and the ability to stick with it for the sake of your child.

How can they learn to pick themselves up again if you don’t ever let them fall? Of course, the idea of allowing our child to fall is anxiety-provoking for any parent, because the lines between support and helicopter parenting are not clear.

Try to think of yourself as a coach – you teach them the rules but the children play the game. We can’t allow our actions to stymie our children’s resourcefulness and grit. Here’s how…

1. Start with you

Anything we teach our children must start with us. If we want to provide a healthy dose of confidence and self-help, then we as parents must also learn self-belief. We cannot give what we don’t have. We need to prioritise our own mind and body, learn to be sure of ourselves before we can show our children how to do it for themselves.

Try to back away from the scaremongering and the panic-inducing warnings. Return to a common-sense approach. If you don’t let your child climb that tree, they won’t know their limits.

If they fall, they will reevaluate their risk-taking which might actually stand to them on their Leaving Cert holiday when their pals are considering climbing balconies.

2. Mastery begets mastery

Build their confidence. Failure sets up a cycle of lack of confidence, giving up and even more failure. In order to be successful, your child needs to feel what it’s like to be good at something, the best, to win and to want to win again.

Our job is to match our child with the task correctly so they can start building their self-esteem.

Our job is to manoeuvre them into a sport, subject or task that we know they will master – especially at a young age.

This will depend on their personality, their abilities and only you will be able to determine what will work for your little one. It is trial and error at the start but everyone is good at something. Our job is to match our child with the task correctly so they can start building their self-esteem.

3. Positive affirmations

We so often tell children what they can’t do. Make sure to take every opportunity to tell them what they can do. Each evening at bedtime, I get my children to repeat affirmations that will eventually form their own inner voice. ‘I am good at …, I am proud of myself because…, I am unique because….’

This teaches them the value they place on themselves (at least I hope it does or else I’ve missed the first ten minutes of Line of Duty every night for no reason).

If it helps, you can get them to write all the things they like about themselves and stick it to their wall so they read it last thing at night and first thing in the morning. There are so many who will tear them down in the future.

Now is our time to let themselves build themselves up.

Related: Parenting when you are sick: Welcome to hell

4. Step back. I repeat, step back. 

As parents, of course, we don’t ever want our children to struggle. But, they have to learn how to problem-solve themselves. It is a really important lesson. In life, ultimately it lies with them to figure out the best possible solution to their problem – to make a decision that will help them rather than hinder them.

If we keep doing it for them all the time, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to overcoming their challenge whatever it may be.

You can share your own experiences and tell your child about what you did to overcome a problem. In watching others make mistakes and hearing examples of how someone else overcame a problem, they can make an informed choice about the best way of solving their own problem.

I make up stories about when I was younger in my schoolyard as a type of mental role play for my primary school-age children.

I bore them with endless scenarios about ‘what mummy did…’

I figure that’s where most of their little challenges will have to be overcome -being left out, being pushed around or needing to use their voice.

I bore them with endless scenarios about ‘what mummy did….’ and hope that someday if similar happens to them, they will have some type of reference point to help them out. This is now to teach tenacity and perseverance.

5. The value of responsibility

Self-sufficiency is underrated. As a society that sees many of us living with our parents or near them throughout our adult lives, it is too easy to rely on our parents to take responsibility for things that happen to us. But children need to know that they have value.

They need to understand that they have to cherish their own things. If mummy and daddy always pick up after them, when will they ever learn how to be responsible? Home is the best place to start so they know that they add value to the household when they help out.

6. Hold that tongue

Watch out for that constructive criticism. It may sound more like judgment and can harm those tiny roots of self-esteem. I think we are all guilty of this. But equally, it is important to recognise that self-esteem also comes from achievement – real achievement – rather than false accomplishments.

Psychologists encourage parents to be very specific when it comes to praise. Instead of saying ‘you are so smart’, tell them why, exactly. It’s what makes them feel unique and special.

We all want the best for our children. We are the ones who chase away the bad dreams, it is our shoulder they cry on for that first broken heart and we are the monsters who give them curfews and timeouts.

7. A steady hand

As parents, we have a big dilemma. We are torn between being there and letting go. From the first moment they were put into our arms, we promised them that we would always catch them when they fall. But just as our little ones evolve and grow into their own person, we, as parents need to evolve too.

We evolve from carrying their helpless newborn body in our arms into being the hand that steadies them as they walk. We squeeze their hand with love when they no longer want to be kissed going into school.

These hands eventually point out the path for them, rather than leading them down it. That’s a hard but necessary transformation.

Being a parent is tough. It is emotional, exhausting and an endless cycle of ‘am I doing the right thing?‘ But raising small humans, fit for the world, is our ultimate goal.

We give them as many tools as we can to help them make their own way in this life. Our job is to build their confidence, give them decision-making abilities, show them patience and self-sufficiency with buckets of love.

Then, we sit back and watch them soar.

Image: @Unsplash.com


Read more: Let’s stop pretending we are not parents in the workplace

Read more: The moral outrage of parenting in the age of fear

Read more: Is screaming the new spanking?

Also Read

HEALTH & WELLNESS
Why is everyone being weird about hot chocolate on Instagram?

By Holly O'Neill

Lynsey Bennett
BREAKING STORIES, HEALTH & WELLNESS
CervicalCheck Scandal: Terminally ill Lynsey Bennett gives moving speech outside the Four Courts after settling her case against the HSE

The single mother now wants to focus on “staying alive for as long as [she] can” for her two young daughters.

By Lauren Heskin

Board games
PARENTHOOD
The family will love any of these 10 must-have board games this Christmas

Want some festive fun that doesn’t involve technology? Smyths have...

By Jennifer McShane

Denga and Masindi Phiringa, a pair of South African sisters currently studying law and psychiatric nursing, launched the skin and hair care brand, Whipped 2 Glow
premium ADVICE, HEALTH & WELLNESS, REAL-LIFE STORIES, BEAUTY
Black women still can’t find their favourite hair care products in Ireland, so they’re making them

By Angela O'Shaughnessy

PARENTHOOD
10 truths parents want teachers to know about homeschooling in lockdown

By Amanda Cassidy

happiness
HEALTH & WELLNESS
‘Happiness is not something that happens to you. It’s something you have to choose, everyday’

Remind yourself that happiness isn’t something that happens to you,...

By IMAGE

premium HEALTH & WELLNESS, REAL-LIFE STORIES
Life-changing stories: ‘I work in the Rotunda performing C-sections on Covid patients’

Dr. Niamh Daly speaks candidly to Amanda Cassidy about the challenges maternity hospitals face and the heartbreak that comes with the job.

By Amanda Cassidy

premium REAL-LIFE STORIES, RELATIONSHIPS
Lynn Enright: I dream about being at dinner parties in friends’ houses

In her dreams Lynn Enright goes to dinner parties with friends, and for now, that is enough

By Lynn Enright