The Case Against Fixing It

Why do parents feel so upset, and even angry, when their children are upset?
 
We have a theory. When our children are babies, they depend on us for everything.
 
If they are upset, it is our job (rightfully so) to figure out why, and to fix it.
 
So now, when our children are 8, or, 13, or 17, we are conditioned to jump into
action when our children are upset. If a child whines, rolls their eyes, cries, or
struggles, we think: “I need to fix this. If I can’t, I must be failing in my role as a
parent.”
 
But consider this: As your children grow, they need to learn to rely on you less and
less so that they can rely on themselves. This is a requirement of independence.
 
Each time they are upset, they have an opportunity to learn how to take care of
themselves. They have an opportunity to learn coping skills.
 
As they grow older, your job is to slowly transfer more and more responsibility to
them...
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Baseball and Resilience

Our friend and the president of the Santa Monica PONY Baseball league, Marc Shrake, has this to say of coaching: “Most of the kids know what to do; they just need to be taught how to figure out for themselves how to do it.” 

In other words, the wisdom exists inside of them. They just need to be taught how to find it.

He goes on to say that kids don’t need to be told every single time what to do when they swing and miss. Intellectually, they know what they are supposed to do.

“Most of the time, they need to be told to relax, take a deep breath, wait, trust their hands.”

The goal of coaching, he says, is that the kids learn to coach themselves. Instead of looking to the coach for step-by-step instructions, they look inward at what they already know. 

This is also the goal of teaching resilience. The goal is that over time, your kids can figure out for themselves how to tap into their Inner Wisdom. The goal is that they figure out for themselves...

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Let Them Feel Pain

No well-adjusted parents enjoy seeing their children sad, in pain, or fearful.

Yet …

When your children are experiencing negative emotions, do your best to remain calm. Do your best to receive those emotions and communicate that they are acceptable. Demand of yourself that you step back and allow your children to work through these emotions.

You can and should help them process their pain through conversation, of course, but do not rush to sweep their icky feelings away.

When you rush to do anything—everything!—to make your children feel better …

When you panic and, through language and tone, express that you are also flooded with pain …

When you step in and save the day …

… think about what you inadvertently communicate …

You communicate that pain is an unacceptable condition. You model the frantic need to make pain go away at all costs. You model the behavior of reaching for anything to make negative feelings dissipate.

This is...

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Prod the Bear

Do you revisit conflict when tempers have cooled?

Or …

When your child has a giant emotional meltdown, do you breathe a sigh of relief after it passes and go about your business?

Don’t prod a sleeping bear, right?

The truth is, the gold is in the second half. When you and your child revisit a conflict with clear heads, you can find solutions. This is where growth happens. It is where you and your child can begin to appreciate each other’s perspectives, and it is where you can find solutions absent of the flood of emotions that were clouding your thoughts in round one.

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