Research shows that children who are praised for achievement alone lose their resilience later in life.
1. Praise but not for achievement alone
These spunky early achievers shy away from trying anything new or difficult as adults. They go for the easy path where success is assured. They’re cautious. They’ll avoid any situation where they might fail.
Why? Their perfect record is what they got rewarded for.
Seeing yourself as a winner at age ten is easy. But that identity becomes more challenging to maintain as we mature. Kids who are taught to identify with perfectionism grow brittle, insecure, and anxious as adults.
Why? Their sense of self depends on an increasingly impossible standard. They must shrink away from risk and boldness to maintain the status quo.
2. Find ways to develop resilience in children
Successful kids need to be mentored through many failures early in life.
If not, they can’t learn that mistakes pave the way to success.
The invisible trap is found in many homes
Tragically, highly successful and loving parents are often baffled by this. They don’t get the connection between their perfectionistic drive and their child’s growing brittleness, anxiety, and reluctance to engage with life.
By the teen years, this looks like not being able to get out of bed each day without a fight, depression, rebellion, deliberately getting poor grades or dropping out of college.
3. Internal locus of control
Kids who are praised more for their efforts than for their achievements become resilient adults.
These people are better prepared to create their successes in life. Why? Their parents noticed their hard work. When effort is rewarded, kids feel good about trying and good about themselves. They don’t quit to play it safe. Their confidence is based on what they can control-themselves-and less in the outcome.
This is called having an internal locus of control. “I’m responsible for what happens to me,” “I’m the captain of my ship,” “It’s on my shoulders and my shoulders alone, whether I make it or not,” “It’s up to me. My choices are up to me and affect me and me only”.
That’s resilient thinking.
Children, who are taught to have an external locus of control, believe that social bias or luck controls what happens to them. If they weren’t taught accountability, or that effort creates success, then what does? The outside influences of fate, luck, or social status.
Personal strengths and resilience
Studies show that understanding one’s strengths builds resilience.
Strengths are traits or skills that enrich one’s daily life
Strengths include whatever one does well, or quickly, or enjoys doing. Strengths include hobbies as well as traits like being funny or kind. Too often, parents worry that “… my child would get a big ego if I told them about their strengths.” But, the opposite is true.
Children need accurate feedback from their parents. This gives kids a healthy sense of who they are. Children who know who they are, get less affected by peer pressure or failure. This makes them resilient.
- List ten of your child’s strengths
- Describe each strength to them
- Find ways how to describe the strengths to them
Children learn resilience through the example that their parents set by exhibiting their strengths.
- List ten of your strengths
- Give examples to explain each of your strength
Homework for parents
Every day take a moment to describe to your child either one of their or one of your strengths.