Why We Must Stop Fixing Our Children

The BookHere's an abstract from an excellent article from RaisingResilientKids.com :

From a distance, the lake and surrounding forests were an idyllic setting. Along the shore a father was teaching his young son to fish. This appeared to be a wonderful teaching moment. Yet as we approached it became clear that the father was frustrated and the child was unhappy.

"You've got to hold the rod straight and cast straight ahead."
"I'm trying."
"How many times do I have to show you?"
"I want to do it my way!"
"You're going to break it!"
"I don't care!"

What had begun as a father's well-intentioned effort to teach his child to fish, digressed into an angry, unfulfilling experience for both father and child. This pattern begins innocently enough when our children are two or three years old. It starts with just a few words uttered by every well-meaning parent.

"Let daddy show you how to do it."

"Let mommy fix it for you."

Unknowingly these words of assistance, guidance or education mark the entry into the parenting paradox. A paradox is a contradictory idea often at odds with common sense yet possibly true. The parenting paradox affects most families. We correct our children under the mistaken belief that if we tell, show or direct them they will listen, observe and improve. How else will they learn, we wonder, if not shown the errors of their ways - whether in school work, sports or table manners? We would like our children to learn life's lessons without mistake or blunder. These errors of youth we worry will hurt our children psychologically or physically. Listen to me we say. We're the parent, we've been there, done that, made mistakes. We can help you. Our motives are noble. They reflect the very reason we became parents, to guide a youngster into a happy, healthy life's journey. Young children's responses to our offers of guidance and assistance are as varied as their personalities. At one extreme some children watch and listen but then don't do, beginning a pattern of helplessness, passivity and low initiative. At the other extreme some young children respond with resistance, exhibiting a pattern of behavior that we quickly label stubborn or strong willed. This sets the stage for families destined for angry conflicts. Although the majority of young children tolerate our "helping behavior," our actions accomplish little towards our ultimate goal of developing resilient and healthy children.

But somewhere along this path we became stuck in the paradox - if I don't help you how will you ever learn? But on so many occasions when I correct, show or even offer to help - things get worse not better. Our noble message - I'm your parent let me help - over many years either becomes deluged in conflict or complacency on our children's parts. Seemingly beyond our control, helping from our perspective becomes synonymous with fixing while through the eyes of our children it is too frequently experienced as a lack of acceptance of their abilities.

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Solving the Parenting Paradox

We offer four guidelines to solving the parenting paradox. These guidelines, begun when our children are young, will help us avoid falling into this paradox. We are not suggesting if these guidelines are first applied at a later age that they cannot be effective. However, if we begin to refine effective patterns of helping our children when they are young, they are more likely to be responsive and listen to us as they grow.

Guideline One:
Let Empathy Be Your Guide.

Guideline Two:
Bite Your Tongue, Watch and Listen.

Guideline Three:
Understand Before You Respond.

Guideline Four:
Compliment and Be Patient.

Read the FULL article here:
http://www.raisingresilientkids.com/resources/articles/stop_fixing.html

Find out more about Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child

 

 




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It is indeed tough to be a

It is indeed tough to be a parent. But it's a great joy and priviledge too. One thing that I've learnt and still learning in the process is to manage my expectations and to let go.

Over the years, I've learnt to lower my expectations for the children and also of myself as a mother. It really helps me to feel less stressed up and not to fret unnecessarily over their carelessness and silly mistakes. I've learnt to be more tolerant and accepting of their weaknesses, trying to look at the big picture instead of picking on the details.

In a way, I feel more liberated from the process and am a happier and more relaxed mummy.

 

csc | Mon, 25/05/2009 - 11:04am

Confused

good resource article, insider, thanks.

this morning i lost patience with my 5 yo cos she was not paying attention while she was drinking her orange juice while watching TV. this resulted in her spilling her juice all over her school uniform. i ended up beating her hand and scolding her, instead of my usual telling her sternly to pay attention to what she was doing.

i know its my own fault that i let her watch TV while drinking her juice, which resulted in her getting distracted and spilling the drink. Then again this is not an activity which she is new to - she definitely knows how to drink her jiuce, just that she is not paying attention. despite our telling her upteen times to pay attention to what she is doing, she seems sometimes to be in a world of her own, and making all these mistakes that she shouldnt be making. of course i reckon that where kids are concerned, there is no such thing as making mistakes that they shoudnt be making - they are afterall kids.

so herein lies the confusion - while we know the theories and principles, we (at least for me) fall into all sorts of traps that bring harm to the kids. As parents, we are beings ourselves - we have our fair share of blind spots and weaknesses.

not that this is an excuse - its just that its sometimes a tough call, at least for me.

ImMeeMee | Mon, 25/05/2009 - 9:48am