How did you respond when the last time your kid revealed their not so perfect side? When they,
Didn’t win that race/competition?
Exhibited their imperfect drawing?
Froze in their on-stage performance?
What should be our reaction? Should we try to find if something was troubling them during that performance? Did they assume they should win, be more desirable? Should we talk to them to surmise what they were thinking? Do we make them tense and apprehensive awaiting the impending admonishment?
Such situations are their defining moments at this tender age, where they are susceptible and supple. Adversities faced in childhood and the responses provided by the world drive kids’ attitude towards hurdles in life. Kids gather various perspectives across every conversation, creating their foundation in their early years. When they grow up and have to respond to the adversities in life, these perspectives are what they turn to
They need our unconditional and non-judgmental support to feel cared for and sail through these challenging times. The idea of pro-parenting draws on the non-judgmental approach in fostering happier kids. Kids retain and mirror our approach and response to these imperfect moments.
Their key to be resilient to hardships is hidden in our responses.
I have tried to summarize a few situations where a genuine dialogue would be beneficial for the kid–
- Winning/Losing: Everyone wants to win every competition but is it even possible? While every race will have a few winners, we should emphasize the importance of enjoying the performance while giving it their best try. Each competition allows participants to improve from their previous instance, do their next best performance and enjoy that time. Quoting the legendary Michael Jordan, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
- ‘Not’ the best work: When they create something, always appreciate it, and ask how they conceived and executed the idea. Understand, if they needed help at any stage. If they were to restart, would they do it any differently? Provide inputs, only when asked, and suggest alternative approaches which may help them learn something new. Be curious about their work. Kids love to see someone intrigued, and knowing you are keen to learn from them, promotes them. Also, highlight their effort, and make them aware of their self-improvement, by comparing the work to their previous ones will help. Quoting Madonna, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”
- Stage fear/fear of the unknown: Kids are terrified before going to stage, and there is performance pressure, especially in front of the people who matter. They could be told to focus on themselves and not on the people on the other side of the stage. Also, it is completely normal to be scared, all of us have stage fear, and we all go through this and if we try we eventually succeed. Finally, even if they end up freezing on-stage, make sure you applaud their effort, and highlight that its a journey to become a performer, and cannot be an overnight success.
Sample encouraging questions
The big idea is to help them become better versions of themselves and encourage them to try their best. In summary, the approach includes four pillars-
- Asking and understanding their thoughts sincerely
- Help them see clearly and towards a bigger picture
- Sharing your own experiences from your past
- Discussing and promoting their best effort without direct comparison with other kids
These simple methods may help the kids become more confident and resilient as they grow. In their early life, we need to be in their shoes and empathize with them. I am confident that we, pro parents, would be able to make a robust generation of kids who don’t give up when life hits them hard
I would be delighted to hear your thoughts. You may reach out to me on social media or write directly to me at [email protected]