A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these she said is roots, the other, wings. And they can only be grown, these roots and these wings, in the home. – Hodding Carter
We all want to raise confident, capable children. Sometimes, our own actions can inadvertently get in the way of this goal. Here are 5 ways to give our children wings.
Let Them Fail
Sometimes in our efforts to help our children succeed, we rob them of the resilience that is built through failing and working through setbacks. Many parents interfere and insert themselves into situations that children could work out for themselves, if given the space to do so. This interference comes from good intentions, and yet the consequences occur just the same. Kids begin to feel incapable of handling things on their own and reliant upon parents to fix everything for them. Failure won’t hinder their future success, so step back and let them fail and convey your belief in their ability to overcome the situation. It is through falling down and getting back up again that they learn to take risks and gain confidence and resilience.
Speak Intentional Encouragement
In this article, I spoke about being a light reflector who sees the light in our children and reflects it back so they can see what we see. Be intentional about speaking encouraging words to your children daily and watch how they light up and begin to bloom. Encouraging words nourish the soul and build confidence. Confidence is wings. This is different from heaping on praise such as “good job” and genuinely acknowledging your child’s innate goodness and strengths. If you need some ideas, I’ve also written 50 Encouraging Phrases for Kids.
Critical words naturally do just the opposite. They diminish the child’s sense of self and break confidence. Criticism is one of the “four horsemen” according to the work of Dr. John Gottman; these are four relationship destroyers. Criticism is especially harmful to sensitive children and children whose love language is words of affirmation. Of course, parents aren’t perfect just as our children aren’t perfect, so if you speak hurtful criticism to your child and see the light dim in their eyes a bit, simply apologize and get on with soul-building encouragement.