As much as we want to protect our kids there is also a need to allow them space to make mistakes. Kids need to learn to fail and fall, so they can get back up. In a busy world this can give parents anxiety, wanting to do everything possible to keep our kids safe. If we parent from our own anxiety, our kids won’t have the opportunity to push their boundaries and to go beyond their comfort zone to grow into resilient and confident youths and adults.
Kids pick up on their parents anxiety. Even if you try to hide it your child will pick up on it and it will leave then unsure, taking away the choice of discovering their own courage to step out of their comfort zone. If you are stressed out as a parent get some support in dealing healthily with your worries, so your child is free to blossom without your anxiety. Knowing that you trust and acknowledge your child, allows them to go beyond the unknown and the negative thoughts. It teaches them to go and explore, to risk failure and disappointments. Once they experience this they will re-emerge a little bit stronger. This is the foundation of resilience!
Your empathy and acceptance of big feelings when they don’t make the team, miss that crucial goal, or the roller coaster is just too scary, you acceptance of how they feel is what teaches them that it’s OK to make mistakes and extend their comfort zones. Rather than talking your child out of their feelings with logic, or jollying them out of feelings trying to get them in a better mood, acknowledge what they are feeling and create a safe space where they will be much more likely to express what is really going on, whether that be with words or a good cry.
Of course healthy regulation of your own emotions are important. It is important so that you can allow your child to experience their feelings without you being triggered yourself. Instead of suppressing all those big feelings to be strong, and appearing to be brave and in control, it is in fact your empathy that will support your kids to feel those emotions in a healthy way and, then be able to naturally move past them.
Your unconditional and empathetic presence will support your child to reveal the underlying feelings that are driving their behavior. This is much more effective than leaving them to stew over a situation. Without your support, when a situation triggers them again and erupts into blame, shame, anxiety and fear will sabotage your child well into the future.
The benefit of starting to build a strong connection between you and your child now, will only deepen as time goes on.
Knowing that someone has your back is vital for all of us, children are no exception. It gives them the benefit of growing confidence to explore outside their comfort zones, in a way that is safe and secure, and so then even failing becomes a learning that engenders their inner confidence to try again.