We all love our kids, want them to be happy and to protect them from hurt for as long as possible. Inevitably though our children will grow up and in the long run its better to prepare them to be more resilient and assertive human beings.
There’s been a lot of talk in the last two decades about building self-esteem in children and not practising apparently ’emotionally harmful’ concepts like identifying winners and losers in games, criticism or using the evil ‘Red Pen’. This sheltering is actually more detrimental than beneficial. Creating an illusion of constant success without real effort and talent creates a false ego that may set the child up for a much larger disappointment when their imagined abilities and expectations hit reality. It also belittles the importance of effort and practice if they believe success is as simple as participation.
It’s natural that your child may be good at some things and not as competent in others. Whilst praise is important when deserved or for encouragement, try avoid excessive exaggeration. Failure and disappointment are the most important learning tools in life and as parents we can use these as teaching and self-reflection opportunities for your child so they can improve in the future. All children will go through ups and downs in academic and recreational pursuits therefore develop a positive attitude to bouncing back quickly.
The bullying issue is always a difficult one; nobody wants to see their child upset and despite school’s and parent’s best efforts in anti-bullying programs it still continues. However, bullying is not exclusive to the playground; dealing with unpleasant people and negative behaviours occurs in many workplaces, homes, adult friendships and relationships. Focus instead on teaching assertiveness and compassion.
Assertiveness is about facing issues head on but without aggression or retaliation. Often bullying behaviour stems from unseen personal and home life issues. Make your child aware that they are not the one at fault and the other persons behaviour has nothing to do with them personally. Provide assistance in helping your child to decide how to articulate to the person what they don’t like about the behaviour and why they would like it to stop.
You can help your children be happy and confident by fostering a realistic understanding of their strength and weaknesses and developing positive attitudes and strategies to overcoming problems and disappointments.