One of the most common mistakes of parenting is treating children as though they are fragile and cannot cope with difficulty. It is a form of over-protection that often occurs by parents who have been bullied themselves in childhood and who are determined to never do the same thing to their own children. Instead, these parents flip to the opposite side of the coin.
While it comes from a good place, over-protection sadly does almost as much damage to children as beating them on a regular basis, as it instils the same foundational negative assumptions on which children then build their brains.
For example, if you regularly beat and bully children you teach them that the world is a dangerous place, that other people will be hostile and that they are powerless and to do anything about it. If you over-protect children, you teach them that there is a dangerous world and that there are hostile people out there (both of which they need protection from) and you teach them that the reason they need protection is because they are powerless to sort it out for themselves.
In the longer term, these negative assumptions then often result in exacerbated threat awareness, low self-esteem and fears and doubts about one’s ability to deal effectively with challenges.
In contrast to this, it is important for children to meet with the real world and not be protected from it if they are to build great resilience.
Sure, children and teenagers need discussion and guidance from parents about complex and difficult issues when they have not encountered them before, but these things teach them excellent problem-solving skills and a sense of agency and mastery when they successfully sort problems out.
It is important for parents to simply ‘expect’ children to cope well with both challenges and adversity and generally they will.