Being a parent is hard, and being a good parent is even harder still.
Raising kids who are strong enough to take on the challenges that the world will throw at them takes a lot of fortitude on the part of the parents, because it often requires parents to make difficult choices that aren’t always intuitive. That’s why we say that if you want to raise kids who are mentally strong, you’ve got to be mentally strong yourself.
Here are 13 great tips (in no particular order) to help you with exactly that.
1. Don’t parent out of guilt
Guilty feelings about potentially denying your child a toy or letting them overindulge during the holidays might be hard to deal with, but when you give in to that guilt you make unhealthy decisions. Never let your guilt interfere with your ability to make the objectively best choice.
2. Don’t condone a victim mentality
Did your kid get cut from the team? Did your little star not land the lead in the play? That doesn’t make them a victim. Like it or not, life isn’t fair. Yelling at your precious child’s coaches and teachers might show them you have their back, but teaching them to actually handle disappointment is a FAR more valuable lesson in the long run.
3. Don’t give your kids power over you
Some families let their kids dictate way too much of their lives – what to have for dinner, what activities they’ll engage in, even where they’re going on vacation. That’s not right. There’s nothing wrong with having fun with your kids, but mentally strong parents always keep their status as the disciplinarian first.
4. Don’t make your child the center of your universe
Ok, this one might sound a little counterintuitive – how can your child NOT be the center of your universe? While we’re not saying you should love your kids less, they do need to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them – because it doesn’t.
Kids who don’t learn this grow up to be selfish and entitled, and life tends to put them in their place a lot less gently than you would have.
5. Don’t make decisions based on fear
Let’s be fair, at some point every parent has wondered how much stress they could avoid by raising their child in a bubble. Sadly, that stunts development and results in kids who crumble at the slightest sign of danger.
Think of yourself a little less as a protector and more as a guide. Let your kids experience life, even when it’s a little scary.
6. Don’t expect perfection
While having high expectations and setting lofty goals for your kids is never a bad thing, expecting too much can also put undue pressure on your kids. Every child is different, and there will definitely be things your child won’t be good at. Instead of pushing your kids to be better than everyone else, focus on encouraging them to be the best they can be.
7. Allow your kids to experience pain
I know, I know. Seeing your kids suffer is absolutely heart-wrenching, but your kids need to learn to cope with discomfort just as you once had to. This will give them the confidence to deal with any hardships life throws their way.
8. Don’t let your kids avoid responsibility
Kids need structure and discipline. Giving them a list of chores and responsibilities and expecting them to stick to it teaches them how to pitch in and be a responsible member of society.
9. Let your kid make mistakes
Some of our most valuable lessons are learned through mistakes. Learning that you messed up – and facing the consequences – is the best way to avoid making the same mistakes again.
10. You aren’t responsible for your child’s emotions
When your kids are upset, it’s only natural that you’d want to cheer them up. But letting them learn to regulate their own emotions is an important skill that will come in handy throughout their lives.
11. Don’t confuse discipline with punishment
Punishment is a tried-and-tested parenting tool to curb bad behavior, but discipline teaches them how to be better in the future. While giving consequences is certainly important, your ultimate goal should always be to instill a sense of self-discipline that prevents issues from arising in the first place.
12. Don’t take shortcuts just to avoid discomfort
When your kid whines about their chores, it’s definitely faster and easier to do it yourself just so that it gets done, but that teaches kids to be lazy.
Nobody said parenting was about being comfortable or universally well-liked at all times – embrace it and do your job as a parent.
13. Don’t ever lose sight of your values
Between work, household chores, and hectic family schedules – not to mention the black hole of social media – it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters in life.
The best parents never forget their values, and they don’t let their kids do so either.