Parents work relentlessly to provide a secure environment, every comfort, and the best education to their young ones. Even if their intention is not to overburden a child, when parents correct the child continuously, that is precisely what they do! On the one hand, parents tend to become overprotective, and on the other, they expect children to perform to their expectations of what is ‘perfect.’ Unhealthy parenting practices such as this cause more harm than good. Mistakes are a significant part of learning. Without trial and error, the learning curve can never improve. Parents must learn to control this inherent need to overprotect so that their child may grow emotionally.
What do overprotective parents do?
- Become a shield against every failure that their child may face.
- Do not let a child take risks or challenges.
- Make decisions for every experience in the child’s life.
- Always swoop in to help the child.
When parents are overprotective, children miss out on critical skill-building that arises from making errors. As a result, they have low self-confidence, develop a fear of failure, are less willing to try something new, and struggle to handle adversity.
How can parents support their children when they make mistakes?
- Provide comfort after every bump and bruise. If a baby learns to walk, he will fall over often. But not letting him walk for fear of falling would cause more damage.
- When we allow children to face struggles or challenges, or even failure, we enable them to develop necessary social and emotional skills.
- At no cost can children’s safety be risked. Be physically and emotionally available when they try new tasks.
- When children make mistakes, point out what they did right. Discuss what they can do differently the next time. Help them set up short-term goals and support them as they begin again.
- We, as parents, must open the lines of communication by discussing the mistakes we made in the past and what we learned from our experiences. Children feel reassured when they realize that they are not the only ones struggling with errors.
- Taking risks opens us up to the possibility of becoming disappointed. Children must learn how to cope with disappointments. With parental support, children learn to try again rather than give up on their tasks. They learn to handle adversity and develop resilience when they are independent adults.
What happens when children are allowed to make mistakes?
- Develop self-confidence when parents allow them to make ‘how-to’ decisions independently and find a way to problem-solve.
- Take calculated risks and participate in new activities, even if there is a possibility of failure. They become self-reliant as they practice setting their own goals and plan for how to achieve these goals.
- Cultivate self-regulation skills by learning to control their responses, whether it is anger or disappointment, through practice. When children face failure, they learn to manage their emotions that arise from it.
- Understand others’ perspective in case of a clash of words or ideas, and solve problems amicably.
- Learn to take responsibility for their decisions and actions and accept the consequences.
- Are less prone to feelings of anxiousness as they recognize that failure is an opportunity to learn.
As parents, our job to provide our children with the coping skills they need to face success and failure. We must let our children make mistakes to develop resilience.