You want one thing for your kids.
You want them to be happy.
Oh, and culturally, socially and academically successful, too. (Of course.)
You want them to be perfect pillars of well-roundedness.
That’s just the parenting age in which we live!
And we’re a great generation of parents, in so many ways. We fill our children with joy. We work to shield them from harm, disappointment, sadness, failure, and boredom.
You work hard to help your kids to sail through life.
Your intentions are good, but the problem is, that’s not real life. Every single child will face failure and negative emotions.
Are we doing our kids any favors by manipulating reality and try to hide all the nasty parts?
We may even be doing them harm.
It's a struggle to find balance.
So, what can we do to avoid raising a generation of teacup children that grow up to be entitled adults?
How do we raise kids who can cope with life’s twists and turns?
The answer lies in awareness.
Here are 8 ways you can help your child learn to cope with life.
1. Only Liars Lie
Sometimes, reality bites.
Don’t pretend that your son’s best friend is going to the dentist when he’s really going to a birthday party that your son wasn’t invited to.
Take the opportunity to explain that everyone doesn’t get invited and that’s just life.
Be honest! You’ll be surprised at the inner strength he displays – given the chance.
Do something special for him that day to keep his mind off it.
Twenty years later, when he isn’t invited to a dinner party or a round of drinks after work, he’ll brush it off without a second thought.
2. Losers Lose.
Beat her. (No, not like that!) Just don’t let her win all the time. Even chess masters don’t win all the time.
She’ll learn to live when her adrenaline is pumping and she’ll desperately want to win… but she won’t. Someone else will.
They will beat her fair and square and that’s how games (and life) go.
Teach her to say, “good game!”, with a smile plastered on her face, and move on.
Life is full of losing hands.
3. Kill the Copycat
I know, you feel like sh*t that your kid’s buddy from school goes skiing in Vail every Christmas, has summers at the beach house, and plays travel soccer for two grand a season, but that doesn’t mean you should break the bank attempting to do the same.
Show your kids that some people have more material things and some people have less. It’s an opportunity to learn gratitude for what he does have.
It’s an opportunity to understand that things aren’t the baseline for happiness.
Someday, he’ll know better than to finance a Beamer on 35k right out of college.
4. Believe in Boredom
Parenting today focuses on keeping our kids busy. Playdates, lessons, sports, and weekends are packed back-to-back, and beside carefully planned family activities.
In our quest to keep our kids happy we forget that it’s good to be bored.
Wonderful ideas are born out of boredom. You aren’t outfitted with a personal jester that pops out of the hall closet to make you laugh whenever you’re bored or lonely.
Your kids don’t need one either.
You don’t have to do that for them.
You shouldn’t do that for them.
They will learn to be creative, dynamic, and independent by filling their own days on occasion. Take 5 and read a book.
5. Honesty Is the Best Policy (I Swear!)
Grown-ups learn that we suck at certain things, even though we may love to do them (I’m looking at you, Karaoke). Drunk people will lie and say we have talent but we know better.
Newsflash- it’s not good to lie to kids about their weaknesses. You are not being cruel by being honest with your child about where their current talents do (or don’t) lie. If they are pitiful at basketball and devastated time after time when they don’t make the team, they have two options. Dedicate more effort and find a different sport.
They will learn to play to their strengths and understand that sometimes despite their best efforts, there are natural abilities that we are not all blessed with.
Like singing voices. And slam dunks. We can’t have it all.
6. Oh, the Places You Will Go, Kid! (even if you don’t want to)
Find yourselves avoiding things that you would actually really like to do because you know your kids won’t be excited about it? Stop it!
Love a morning yoga class but find yourself skipping it all the time because your kids hate the gym childcare? Too bad!
Your days are chock full of doing sh*t you don’t feel like doing, but you do it.
And odds are that most of your days revolve around them, so let them take one for the team and return the favor from time to time.
Get your dog on, and tell the kids they just need to deal.
7. Sharing Sucks
You’re at a playdate and Johnny has a sweet new Tonka that he just scored for his birthday and has promised to never let go of.
Your little dude wants in on that action!
It’s tempting to let Johnny’s mom force the handover to your sobbing tot. Don’t let her.
When your coworker shows up with a shiny new Apple Watch and you’re dying to put that sucker on, do you throw yourself on the floor crying until she lets you have it?
Of course not! If that worked IRL, life would be one big pile of temper tantrums and tears.
We are not entitled to other people’s possessions just ‘cause.
If Johnny wants to share, cool. If not, too bad, so sad little guy.
Pick a different toy.
Most kids have one stunt that they pull repeatedly, leaving their parents begging them to be careful and to just stop. Maybe it’s scaling scary stuff or swinging from the monkey bars.
You know your kids will completely ignore you even when you’re hyperventilating and reaching for a Xanax.
Hold that thought, pop that Xanax (if you’re not driving), and let them fall.
And if they fall? Lesson learned.
Maybe then they’ll realize you’re telling them to be careful for a reason and not just to piss on their parade.
Probably not, but it could happen.