This post: mentally strong teenagers shave parents who refuse to do these things
In a world that seems hell-bent on tearing our kids down, we need to equip our kids with the tools to tackle life’s toughest challenges with mental strength and a healthy dose of resilience.
One minute our kids are on cloud nine ready to conquer the world and the next they’re beaten down by life. Social media, friend drama, academic demands, and the unrelenting pressure to be smart, beautiful, athletic, or perfect can take its toll on even the most stable teenager.
But what if you could build a protective shield around your kids to help them withstand hardship? What if you could empower them to rise above the pounding factors that rob them of their confidence and buoyancy in life? What if you could make them mentally strong?
As a mom who tries to instill mentally strong habits in my kids, I recently stumbled upon a wonderful book by author Amy Morin that offers insight into the common, unhealthy parenting pitfalls that rob our kids of mental strength.
In the book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, Morin points out that the key to helping our kids reach their greatest potential is helping them to develop strong mental muscle. While a lot of other books harp on what parents should do, this book takes a different approach by focusing on key things parents shouldn’t do so they can become the mental strength trainers our kids need.
Mentally Strong Teenagers Have Parents
Who Refuse to Do These 13 Things
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1. Make Their Child the Center of Their Universe
As much as your kids very well may be the center of your universe, continually sending that message to them will only cause them to grow up to be self-absorbed, entitled adults who feel life revolves around them. Rather than raising a child who feels the world owes them a living, encourage your kids to focus on what they can offer the world, not what they can take from it.
2. Allowing Fear to Dictate Their Choices
When my son came to me at 13 years of age and told me he wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, to say I was fearful for his safety is an understatement. Still, we moved full steam ahead and today (at 18 years of age) he’s a private pilot who flies all over the country. The decision wasn’t easy. My heart skipped a beat every time he took off. But I had to refrain from letting my fear impede his dream.
Placing a protective bubble around your kids may spare you some anxiety, but it won’t do your kids any favors in the long run. By encouraging your kids to put themselves out there, take calculated risks, face their fears head-on, and realize that failure is oftentimes part of success, you’ll raise kids who aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
3. Taking Responsibility for Their Kids’ Emotions
As parents, there’s a heap of things we can control. Quite often, our kids’ ever-changing, mood-swinging emotions aren’t one of them. Sure, we can offer calming words of advice and be their sounding board when they need to vent, but it’s important that our kids gain emotional competence so they can learn to manage their own feelings.
4. Allowing Their Kids to Avoid Responsibility
It won’t be long before our kids are riddled with responsibility – a job, a mortgage, a family. It’s tempting to allow them to “slack off” and give them a carefree childhood free from expectations and responsibility. But, according to Morin, “kids who perform age-appropriate duties aren’t overburdened. They’re gaining the mental strength they need to become responsible citizens.”
5. Condoning a Victim Mentality
Life is sometimes just plain hard. Failing a test they studied hard for, not getting the job they hoped for, or losing a game their team fought hard to win are all major letdowns for teens. But raising mentally strong teenagers involves toughening our kids up and teaching them to refrain from wallowing in their hardship. Teach your kids that rejection, failure, and unfairness are part of life. Reinforce the idea that regardless of what life throws at them, they are always in control of how they view the situation, how they handle it, and what they can learn from it.
6. Giving Their Kids Power Over Them
There’s a fine line between relinquishing some control as our kids become older and handing over the reins of power. “Treating kids like an equal – or the boss – actually robs them of mental strength,” says Morin. Instead, give your kids a voice in your home, but practice the family belief system that you are in control and you have the final say.
7. Expecting Perfection
You know your child better than anyone and you know what they’re capable of achieving. Encouraging them to become the best version of themselves is healthy. Expecting perfection, on the other hand, will only backfire.
Teach your kids to be the best they can be, but also instill the belief that failure is a necessary and normal part of life. Don’t make your child’s self-worth dependent upon how they measure up in your eyes or in the eyes of anyone else.
8. Parenting Out of Guilt
Every parent feels a sense of guilt from time to time – all good parents do. But, that doesn’t mean we should cave into our guilt by making hasty or unwise parenting decisions.
Kids need to learn, by example, not to allow uncomfortable feelings – such as guilt – to get in the way of making sensible decisions. Kids also need to know that they can’t control our behavior by trying to make us feel guilty about something we did or didn’t do.
9. Preventing Their Kids from Making Mistakes
Mistakes should be viewed as amazing opportunities to grow. Unfortunately, all too often, parents attempt to prevent their kids from making mistakes. Our kids will make mistakes. It’s an inevitable part of being a teenager and a human being. It’s what they learn from those mistakes that will make all the difference in the world.
According to Morin, “Natural consequences can be some of life’s greatest teachers.” Let your kids mess up sometimes and empower them to learn from their mistakes so they can become wiser, confident, and more resilient.
10. Shielding Their Kids from Life’s Hardships
“Hurt feelings, sadness, and anxiety are part of life,” says Morin. “Letting your kids experience those painful feelings and hardships offers them opportunities to practice tolerating discomfort.”
When they weren’t invited to a party, didn’t get the part in the play or their best friend starts pulling away, give your kids the guidance and support they need to deal with the pain. But also understand that, although these challenges are difficult, these experiences will make them stronger in the end.
11. Confusing Discipline with Punishment
When our kids defy us or break our rules, our natural reaction is to punish them for their actions. But according to Morin, we need to focus on disciplining our kids, not punishing them. “Punishment involves making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline is about teaching them how to do better in the future,” she says.
Rather than imposing harsh punishment, use consequences that help your kids develop the self-discipline and restraint to make wiser choices in the future.
12. Taking Shortcuts to Avoid Discomfort
We’re all guilty of it. When our child starts begging to do something, go somewhere, or complaining that they can’t (or don’t want to) help with chores, we cave in and say yes or let them off the hook. We take the easy route to avoid confrontation. But those tempting shortcuts won’t instill healthy habits in our kids. Rather than giving in to make life easier in the short term, be a strong role model for your kids by showing them your strength and toughness, even when it isn’t convenient or easy.
13. Losing Sight of Their Values
Life gets busy. And, sometimes the values we hold dear, including quality family time, respecting one another, or our religious beliefs, for example, get pushed aside in the wake of life’s busyness. “Make sure your priorities accurately reflect the things you value most in life and you’ll give your children the strength to benefit from a meaningful life,” says Morin.
Every parent has the ability to raise mentally strong teenagers. We simply have to teach them how to exercise their minds and help them develop healthy habits to avoid and tackle life’s hardships head-on.
Amy’s book is stock full of powerful and insightful information and tips that expand on each one of these points! SO worth the read, parents…
Are you raising mentally strong teenagers? Tell us what you’re doing in the comments section below!