Resist the temptation to rescue your children every time they struggle. Struggling a little bit, and having to learn to deal with difficult situations and emotions, is great for kids. When they’re NOT given many opportunities to deal with disappointment about not getting their way, and not given opportunities to have to be flexible and figure out how to solve a problem, they’ll have trouble developing these skills. It’s important that they practice giving in and being flexible to the needs of others in the family as well. And as they get older, they should be given more and more chances to do this. Allowing our children to feel sadness, disappointment, resentment, and other tough feelings, allows them to develop empathy as they mature. The next time they have a friend or sibling experience one of these emotions, they’ll have a much better feeling what it feels like.
Another reason not to rescue too much or solve too quickly is that when we do, we are communicating with our actions that we don’t believe our kids can do it, or that they can’t handle something. This is tough for me as a parent. I want what’s best for my kids, and I usually genuinely feel that I know better than they do what’s best for them. So when it’s cold outside and I ask my nine-year-old if he wants a jacket, and he invariably says, “No,” I can hardly keep myself from insisting that he take one anyway. But when I do that, I communicate to him, without actually saying it, “I don’t trust that you know what your body needs, and you aren’t able to make good decisions, so I must make them for you.”
Obviously, there are times when it’s our responsibility to step in and rescue our children. But save your super-hero work for the big issues. On the smaller ones, remember that rescuing our kids is not only unnecessary, it’s not even good for them.