As a widowed mother of two small children and a psychologist trained in dialectical behavioral therapy, I think it is harder and harder to guide the next generation towards resiliency with all the negative victim and herd mentality. I have been reading the book 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do (2017) by Amy Morin. Morin has done a commendable job bullet pointing the things I practice in my own household and those I attempt to teach my patients. I do believe that we have things in our lives that hurt and cause pain. I also believe that we have a great opportunity to bounce back from hardships and grow even stronger through utilizing techniques that may seem difficult, but are actually very simple in concept. These are a few tips that I am learning that I want to share with my fellow parents and guardians.
Our children are mentally strong and very capable of coping with life’s disappointments. We need to teach our children that they can control their emotions so that later their emotions don’t control them. Teach them that emotions are normal experiences and come and go. They are not who we are. They are just feelings.
- Show them how to take positive action replacing negative black and white (All or nothing) thoughts with more realistic thoughts.
- We validate and we also discourage the victim mentality.
- We feel our feelings, but we remain solution focused.
- Do not parent out of guilt. Our children are not victims. They are strong, resilient brilliant humans born at the exact right time.
- Be assertive with them and make them take responsibility for their part in the household.
- Don’t let fear dictate your choices.
- Give your children 2 options to chose from.
- Your child is not the center of the universe or your household.
- WE don’t blame each other for our feelings, we take responsibility for them and we don’t shield each other from pain. It is part of life. Parents you are not responsible for your children’s emotions and they are not responsible for yours.
- Allow your child to make mistakes. Some of life’s greatest lessons are through doing things imperfectly.
- Discipline is so important. It is not punishment. Don’t take shortcuts to avoid discomfort.
- Household Values are very important and need to be clearly established in monthly family discussions. Honesty, Hard-work, integrity, teamwork, loyalty, etc. Splitting and demonizing each other within families can cause a myriad of mental health conditions. Sometimes if we can see things through another person’s point of voice (non-polarizing) we can work together to resolve the problem. Talk about the problems together not in silo or small groups but all together.
There is always a silver-lining to any situation. Ask yourself, “What is one good thing that has come out of this? What is a positive way to look at this situation?”