Dear mummy of the little girl in the park… this letter is just for you!
Dear mummy of the little girl in the park,
I was at the playground yesterday with my children, quite older than your own daughter. They are old enough for me to sit down on a nearby bench and relax, while they play. I noticed you because your little girl reminded me so much of my own when she was that age – probably around four years old, right?
I observed that like when my girl was younger, your daughter too brought along her favourite toys to the playground. She had her hair in two cute pigtails with yellow sunflower hairbands holding them in place – my daughter used to wear her hair just like that too.
I saw how you sat down with your little girl, in the sandpit, and helped her build a ginormous sand castle which both of you decorated with flowers and sticks.
You love playing with your little one but you also give her the space to play by herself…
At one point, your daughter decided, “Enough with the sandcastles,” and ran over the other side of the park where the play equipment was. You sat on a nearby bench and kept a close eye on your girl. She was a bundle of energy, zipping down the slide, skipping on the hopscotch squares and dancing across to the see-saw.
It was when she was monkeying around on the monkey bars that it happened. She fell… and her beautiful, dark eyes filled with tears. Her lips started trembling as she sat there. I looked at you.
Her lips started trembling and her eyes filled with tears but one look at your face and everything was okay again…
An emotion that was clearly anxiety swept across your face briefly, but that was quickly replaced with an encouraging smile. You nodded at your child as you mouthed, “Are you okay?” Your girl saw your face and slowly the lip trembling stopped, she determinedly rubbed those tears out of her eyes with her chubby fists, and she replied “I’m okay mummy.” And off she ran to play again.
It was a tiny incident but oh-so significant. In a world where helicopter mummies abound and little girls are treated like fragile glass, I can’t tell you enough how impressed I was by your girl’s inner strength, resilience and independence.
I know she has learned this from you, a young mother, whose amazing parenting skills are encapsulated in a playground moment.
Take a bow mummy. You’re nurturing a little girl who is going to grow up to be a strong, independent and resilient young lady for sure. It takes a lot of parental resilience to step back and let your child learn on her own. We all know the world needs more people like her.
From one mum to another: Why is resilience important?
Why is resilience important? Teaching your little one how to be resilient and independent will help him right through his life.
Why is resilience important? Childhood certainly isn’t without its stresses. Taking a tumble in the playground like the little girl I told you about on the previous page, encountering and dealing with bullies at school, getting sick, making new friends or changing schools – these are all challenges our little ones may face. I know mine have, as yours must have too.
When my own kids were younger, I was curious to find out about the qualities that help kids navigate such challenges, so I did some research of my own.1 I found out that what helps them are resilience and independence. Resilient, independent kids are problem-solvers and work hard to find solutions to tough situations by themselves. This determination for kids will be valuable to them throughout their life.
I wanted my own kids to have these qualities growing up, so they could gain important life skills to benefit them through their lives. So I started applying some of the things that I learned in my research to my own parenting method.
Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you.
It’s so normal as a mum to try and help your kids with everything. But letting them do things by themselves, like tying their shoelaces, will help them be more independent in the future.
1. Avoid helping your child if you know he can help himself
Hands up if you still feed your four-year-old or you run to pick up the toys your almost-three-year-old dropped. As mums, it’s perfectly normal for you to want to help your kids with everything. But doing this can actually cause your kids to develop what’s called learned helplessness. It’s just one of the effects of helicopter parenting that could happen to your child.
Experts2 define learned helplessness as the general belief that “one is incapable of accomplishing tasks and has little or no control of the environment.” What this means for your kids as they grow up is that they give up all too easily when faced with a challenge.
So mums, the next time you get the urge to help your little one do something you know he can do alone, resist. Remind yourself of the answer to the question “Why is resilience important?” And set your child on the road to independence.
How to build resilience in children: Help your child be a problem solver by encouraging him to think of solutions to problems.
2. Avoid asking “why” questions
So your primary schooler has left his school diary in the library and the first thing you might ask him, almost instinctively, is “WHY did you do that?” He will probably answer you, “Because I forgot it.”
Experts3 say that “why” questions aren’t really useful in promoting problem-solving in little ones. Instead, they recommend asking “how” questions instead. So instead of asking your child why he left his school diary behind, you could instead try asking him, “So you left your school diary in the library. How are you going to find it again?”
This encourages your child to think of a realistic solution to the problem and he may very well answer you with “I’ll ask the librarian if it’s in the lost-and-found box.” As you can see, he’s on the right track to finding a solution to the problem.
Be your children’s “safety zone”. Don’t push them into unfamiliar situations until they are ready.
3. Don’t push your child to the unfamiliar
Mums, you must have come across that child who thrives in new situations, the one who won’t hesitate to volunteer to demonstrate a new move at gym class, or who immediately feels at home in his new preschool. But not all kids are like this.
As tempting as it may be for you to push your child (who is clinging to your leg) to also try out that new gym move, doing so may actually harm his self-confidence rather than boost it. If you want to raise resilient kids, you need to nurture his confidence in himself.
Try changing your own expectations to make room for your little one’s uncertainties. If it takes some time for him to get used to something new, so be it, and reassure him that it’s okay. This is key in raising a confident child. When the time is right, you can be sure that he will go forth with confidence and courage.
Help your child be strong on the inside.
To learn more about how to raise resilient children, visit www.aptagro.com.my.
Mummies, how do you teach your child resilience and independence? Why is resilience important to you? Do share your valuable tips with everyone by posting a comment below.
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