Being a parent is inherently stressful—especially when your children are eager to explore everything and heedless of the risks. How do you keep them safe and healthy, without becoming unhealthily overprotective or constantly panicking over nothing?
The key elements of helping children grow up safe and confident are:
Allowing Them to Challenge Themselves
There are, of course, childhood tendencies that must be prohibited:
- Running blindly into the street
- Petting strange animals
- Playing with cutlery, fire, or adult tools
Many parents, however, try to protect their children from ever being bruised, physically or emotionally. Climbing four feet off the ground is a trigger for panic; reading beyond grade level is discouraged as “too frustrating.” Children raised in such an environment grow up with the idea that all challenge is dangerous and no one should take on anything they can’t get right the first time.
Emphasizing Personal Responsibility
Some parents go as far as making their children’s beds, putting away their children’s toys, and doing their children’s homework—in addition to singlehandedly managing the household chores. It may avoid arguments and get the work done faster (for the time being), but it leaves the kids unable and unwilling to manage responsibilities they’ll eventually have to accept in the interest of keeping their future homes and lives livable. Every household should take an attitude of, “We’re all part of the team that keeps things in order,” and every family member should start pitching in as soon as they’re old enough to ask.
Paying the Right Amount of Attention
The majority of young “troublemakers” have parents who are either “too busy” to pay attention under normal circumstances, or so protective or strict that the children come to resent all authority. Evaluate how you habitually:
- Respond when your children ask to talk
- Listen when your children talk
- Invite your children to contribute ideas or opinions
- Do things with your children just for fun
If your children may have cause to feel either ignored or smothered, adjust your habits accordingly.
Encouraging Children to Be Themselves
Remember, also, that your ideal attention level may feel like “smothering” to an independent or introverted child. Take time to know your children as individuals—their innate personalities, talents, and dreams—and encourage them to pursue the roads they were designed to take. It’s not your job to write detailed life scripts for them.
Setting an Example
If you preach one thing and practice another, kids nearly always do as you do—even if they hate it when you do it. If you want your children to experience the rewards of trying new activities, accepting long-term challenges, and seeing the world as an adventure rather than a threat, remember that you’re never too old to start practicing these habits yourself. What long-ignored dream can you take a forward step on, today?
Note to Teachers
At various points in your career, you’ll have students who are openly timid about new challenges. Make a point of staying empathetic and gently encouraging: no nagging, no impatience, and no “Don’t be ridiculous, it’s easy” remarks. Observe your students as individuals and learn what approaches they respond to. Also learn to recognize their natural abilities and dreams: everyone becomes eager learners when encouraged in what they personally do best.
TEACHING SELF-CARE AND CONFIDENCE
At Shady Oak Primary School, we believe that purposeful education emphasizes problem solving, personal initiative, and good health—all the qualities that help students grow into the unique, effective individuals they were created to be. If you want to make sure your children are being educated in a physically and emotionally safe environment, while also learning confidence and healthy self-respect, contact us today and learn more about our approach.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!