No matter how hard you try, your child is going to run into obstacles, difficulties, and roadblocks. They're going to have their challenges. It doesn't matter how much money, resources, or how many people you know. No matter how much you try, there will be problems and challenges. That's OKAY!
That's a good thing because that's how we build character. Knowing that you're creating confident, secure, resilient kids is one of the most important aspects of parenting. Easier said than done, right? The good news is it doesn't have to be perfect. Once you understand these principles, you might feel a little less pressure to make everything perfect, and your kid will feel a little less pressure, too.
(This topic is relevant to addiction, but it's also relevant to any parent out there. All of these strategies I'm about to give you can work on anyone, whether they're your kid, a work partner, a friend, or a spouse. This is how to help other people feel more confident, secure, and resilient.)
What are the five things you need to focus on to raise secure, confident, and resilient children?
The first and probably most important thing you can do to help your child become competent, happy, healthy, secure is to understand the value of the relationship that you have with them.
Having a mutual sense of trust and respect needs to go both ways. Not just my child should respect me because I'm an adult. If you have a respectful relationship, trust comes naturally.
Let me give you a sad story to demonstrate what I'm saying...
My very first job after graduating with my undergraduate degree was teaching. Not only was it teaching, but it was teaching high schoolers. Not only was it teaching high schoolers, but it was teaching high schoolers in one of those kinds of like on the wrong side of the tracks school. No, seriously, there was a set of railroad tracks near the school.
I was just out of college at age 21. These kids were nearly as old as I was. Here I am in this classroom, and I found myself having to manage four 90-minute classes a day of 30+ high school students. Let me tell you what...that first year was rough.
I mean, it was like a power struggle city. I had no idea how to manage the classroom, which is the most important part of teaching. If you have classroom management down, the teaching part becomes much easier.
At this school, unless something terrible happened, the kids weren't disciplined. If you can put all that in context, here you go.
You have me as this newbie teacher with poor classroom management.
You have pretty hard-core teenagers, and I had no real leverage over them.
Eventually, I did figure some things out. The things I figured out from being a school teacher are probably the most helpful skills that I have as a counselor. So while I would never go back to school teaching, I don't regret my time there either because I learned so many valuable lessons.
The biggest lesson I learned is that you can't get someone else to do something because you're the boss or you're the authority. The biggest thing I learned from being a school teacher is how to get people to do the things I wanted them to do.
I'm not talking about, you know, manipulating people into doing things for me. I just wanted them to do their work or behave, you know, simple stuff like that. I quickly realized that I wasn't going to do that because I was the teacher, I held the power, or I was going to call their parents.
I figured out to get these kids to do the right thing was to build a positive relationship with them. That truly is the key because you see when you like them, they usually like you back, and when they like you, they want to do things that you want them to do. They want to make you proud.
That is the key ingredient to influencing your children or just over the people in your life. You have to have a relationship of mutual respect and trust. I'm telling you it is the foundation, and without it, you're not going to get far.
You can occasionally force compliance. You can't force them to develop the character you want them to have, learn the lessons you want them to learn, without the relationship and trust.
Anytime you are about to do battle with your kids, I realize that there are times you have to go toe to toe and do some battling. I get it. You have to decide for yourself, is this battle worth chipping a notch away from our relationship?
As parents, we all have things that are important to us. Some parents care about school. Some parents care about health. Some parents care if their kids are in athletics or sports, some other parents care that their children develop into responsible, hardworking people.
I mean, all parents care about all those things, but usually, based on our own experiences and our personalities, one or more of those things will make it to the top of our list. For me, the things that are top of my list as a parent are manners and respectfulness first, then responsibility and hard work, then school, and then sports.
However, focusing on those particular things is not the right thing to focus on. Decide what your values are as a parent. What is most important to you? Once you have that figured out, focus on the process of how to help your child move in that direction.
Put your attention towards the process, not the result.
For example, if you want your kid to be a healthy eater and you want them to have good nutrition because it helps their body and their brain work best, that's a great value to have.
Help your kid notice the difference in how they feel when they eat a lot of sugar and help them call their attention to what it does to them and their body. Don't focus on what they eat or force them to eat certain things, or not allow them to eat other things.
What you're doing when you focus on this process is you're helping them develop the desire to have healthy nutrition. It also applies to grades. If you focus too much on the food, you will get the opposite response. You can apply this to sports and other things that parents tend to value, which are all good things.
Number three, give your kids problems to solve and allow them to solve their problems. Don't run in there and immediately fix things. When your kid encounters a problem, for example, if your kid has a mean teacher at school, it might be difficult because your kid could come home and tell you, Ms. Smith said this, and it's going to hit your Momma heart button, and you're going to want to run up there and tell that teacher what's up. I get you. I feel the same way. However, in life, they're going to run into not-so-great people or difficult bosses. Allowing your kid, or maybe even talking with your kid, not telling them how, but just listening to them and allowing them to come up with possible solutions or workarounds is the better way to go about it.
Have empathy for their challenges and allow them to trial and error.
If you will give them real-life examples, it just works better. You can say, "remember that time you dealt with that dude? You were a superstar. I don't even know how I would've handled that situation."
So you give him a specific example because it makes it very real for them.
Number four is to have empathy when they mess up, fail, can't solve a problem, or when they get frustrated and lockdown. The reason why you want to have empathy for someone who's in a bad situation is that it allows their brain to learn the lesson.
For example, if your kid comes and gets in your car after school and they tell you they failed their math test, you're probably going to have the urge to say, well, I've told you to start studying last week and not to wait till the night before.
A much better response is to say, "man, I know math was hard for me. I made a D in geometry, but it's not the end of the world. I'm sure you're going to figure it out. Let me know if you need some help with it." It's okay to say, let me know if you need help. If your kid comes to you and needs help with something, that's great.
When you respond to people like this, it soothes that emotional and upset part of the brain, which allows the thinking smart critical thinking part of the brain, allowing a person to think through, learn their lessons from, and solve the problem.
Number five, I want you to realize when it comes to raising happy, healthy, secure, confident, resilient kids, don't try to teach lessons or solve problems with your kid when you are in a hurry.
When emotions are high, you're not going to do this effectively. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Let's say that morning times are hectic for your family. You're trying to get ready for work. Your kids are trying to get ready for school, or you're trying to make sure they have some breakfast. You're trying to make sure they've got all their stuff together so you can get out of the door. You've noticed lately that one of your kids won't eat the breakfast you put out there.
If you try to solve that problem in the middle of the chaos of the situation, you might find yourself in a power struggle, and you're probably going to come across as your not best self.
However, if you make a mental note that this is kind of an issue that's going on and you decide I'm going to come back to this when you're in a good mood and when the daughter is in a good mood, you have a conversation about it. Just say, "Hey, I've noticed that sometimes you want something different for breakfast?" Lay the problem out. Say something empathetic like, "I know it's hard to agree with like everyone else about what to eat. Isn't it? The problem is, I don't have time to make four or five different things. So what might be a good solution so that everybody's happy?" Let them come up with a solution.
I want you to know I mess it up all the time. The good thing is, as parents, we get lots and lots and lots and lots of do-overs, and it's even okay to say you mess something up to your kid. You don't have to be right all the time. It's okay to do that because you're modeling humility. You're showing that it's okay to make a mistake. You're showing how to go back and correct. The role modeling of your own making mistakes is probably one of the best things you can do for your kids.
You can see that if you can focus your energy on these five things, it naturally builds that relationship of respect and trust. I'm telling you. Once I figured this out as a teacher, my life got a whole lot easier, and honestly, it's good I figured it out. As a counselor, it's the only tool I have to utilize with the client.
I can't use leverage or reward. I can't take something away or force something. It has to happen between me and the person in the chair on the couch. You have to learn how to pull the motivations out of the other person.
I want you to watch these videos next, which go more in-depth on creating a happy, sustainable relationship.