Amy Morin’s Advice on How to Raise Strong Children by Avoiding Unhealthy Parenting Habits
If you want to raise mentally strong kids, it’s important to start with yourself – as a parent, you need to fortify your own mental strength.
As Frederick Douglass famously said: “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” So how can you bring the best out of your child and teach them the skills and values they need?
In her book 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, Amy Morin draws on research as well as her experiences as a foster mother and family therapy expert to provide an answer.
Just as important as knowing what actions to take when parenting are those that shouldn’t be done at all – she provides readers with a comprehensive list of unhealthy habits that parents should strive not to teach their children.
Instead, Morin outlines what steps can be taken instead; from motivating young minds with constructive criticism sandwiching praise and respect, writing down the family mission statement encompassing values, and avoiding excessive guilt-inducing parenting choices which may have unintended consequences.
All of these measures will help fortify your own mental strength which in turn is crucial setting up your kids for success in life.
How to Raise a Mentally Strong Child: Instill Healthy Habits, Hold Them Accountable, Give Responsibilities, and Choose True Thoughts
Mentally strong parents recognize the importance of teaching their children to take responsibility and persevere even in tough times.
Rather than letting them fall into a victim mentality, they encourage them have a “can-do” attitude and put effort into facing life’s challenges.
For instance, when Cody received an ADHD diagnosis, his parents refused to make excuses for his low grades or lighten his workload.
This enabled him to get out of the habit of blaming his condition for any setback he encountered, instead becoming better equipped to deal with any problems that come his way.
In addition, such parents don’t let their kids ignore contributing to household chores either – research suggests that those who are asked from an early age to do chores can become more successful adults with stronger self-reliance and empathy skills.
Also, it is important that kids learn how to resolve disagreements among themselves without overlooking matters – as explained by sociologist Steven Horwitz, this strengthens their mental muscle and teaches them not to overreact or immediately blame others for any inconvenience or wrongs done against them.
Finally, mentally strong parents teach their children true thinking rather than BLUE thoughts – this involves avoiding the temptation of faulting someone else by accepting responsibility fully; being grateful in tough times while taking measured actions; and focusing on exceptions rather than generalizations based on negative assumptions.
By ingraining these valuable lessons early on in life, your child will be well equipped to develop a resilient mind and thrive through various challenges!
Don’t Let Guilt-Driven Parenting Get in the Way of Raising Your Kids Right
Parenting is hard, and feeling guilty for not providing the perfect environment for your children is something that all parents will experience.
It’s important to remember that guilt should not be the guiding force in parenting decisions, as this could lead to bad habits being reinforced in your child.
Instead, teaching your kids healthy ways to deal with guilt and fear can help them to overcome any challenges they might encounter.
Take Joe’s case: his son Micah was severely overweight, reaching 100 pounds at one point.
While Joe initially let Micah eat whatever he wanted which led to feelings of guilt when denied junk food, he started setting limits on his diet to ensure Micah was getting the nutrition he needed.
Joe realized it was better to accept a shorter-term feeling of guilt over long-term remorse if he didn’t address Micah’s health issue.
For parents who are trying too hard and obsessing about providing their children with perfect circumstances, it’s important that they take a step back and recognize that perfection isn’t realistic nor necessary.
For example, if you can’t afford to buy your child expensive shoes then doing so wouldn’t make them any less social or loved by their peers.
Likewise, April learned from her own mistakes when she discovered her 7 year old had wandered away from a friend’s house and found himself in a pool – April had been avoiding water out of fear for her child but soon learned it was important for her children’s safety that they learn how to swim.
Balancing Love and Discipline: How to Help Your Child Develop a Healthy Ego
Setting strong boundaries is an important part of parenting, particularly to ensure that your child doesn’t develop a superior complex.
This can happen if they internalize the feeling that they are the center of their own universe, with no regard for other people’s feelings or needs.
To teach your child humility and empathy, it’s important to not over-praise them or give them everything they want.
Doing this can give them the impression that they don’t need to strive for anything in order for it to be granted.
It’s essential to reward effort rather than results, and introduce concepts like gratitude into everyday life where possible.
Furthermore, to truly empower your child and ensure that she understands that her needs are part of larger context, you should clearly define a hierarchy within your family structure by setting terms without wavering and sticking to consequences when needed.
A unified parental front is also key; when faced with mental fortitude in both parents she’ll learn that it’s okay to trust her own judgement and make good decisions without always depending on someone else.
Letting Your Child Experience Failures and Mistakes Is Essential for Success in the Long Run
Mentally strong parents understand that it’s important to allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them.
They don’t expect perfection, nor do they intervene every time their child slips up.
Instead, they use mistakes as learning opportunities and encourage their kids to strive for excellence not perfection.
When their children make mistakes, these parents don’t criticize harshly.
Instead, they use a praise-criticism-praise sandwich technique which balances criticism with positive reinforcement.
They explain for instance, “Good job cleaning your room! I noticed that you didn’t fold your t-shirts before putting them away, but you made the bed very well.”
Moreover, mentally strong parents avoid helicopter parenting at all costs as this prevents kids from developing resiliency and problem solving skills.
Studies have shown that helicopter parenting can have severe long term effects including depression, difficulty transitioning into adulthood, taking psychiatric medications or recreational drugs and physical health issues.
Pain Is Necessary for Growth and Self-Awareness
Mentally strong parents understand that sometimes children need to experience pain in order to build character and resilience.
These parents don’t try to shield their children from every hard emotion, instead, they help them learn how to cope with the tough times and move through them.
One example of this can be seen in Julie and Michael, a couple who got a divorce but still kept a relatively similar family structure for years afterwards.
Instead of allowing her son and daughter to adapt gradually to the change after it happened, Julie was prolonging the inevitable by maintaining the family structure for her children’s sake.
Although shielding our kids from pain may sound like the best option, we must remember that it sends them the message that failure is not an option and that they are fragile.
When our kids know how to handle discomfort, which comes with learning how to deal with different life lessons such as separation in this case, they develop valuable problem-solving skills as well as self-esteem.
By interacting with hardship rather than shrinking away from it, your child will gain wisdom on how to see out of difficult situations while learning important qualities such as empathy and mindfulness.
Teaching Kids Emotional Intelligence To Help Them Cope with Life Challenges
As parents, it’s important to allow our children to experience the full range of human emotions.
Many parents are uncomfortable with their children feeling sad, angry or hurt and will try to intervene and distract them from these negative feelings.
Though understandable, this isn’t beneficial for your child in developing their ability to manage difficult emotions.
Letting a child fully feel the emotion allows them to be more accepting of it and begin the process of learning how to cope with those feelings and find healthier solutions instead of avoidance.
It’s also essential in creating emotional and mental strength in our kids.
As they move forward into adulthood, they’ll encounter boredom, guilt, disappointment & frustration—all of which can be managed better if they learn early on how to take control & understand their feelings, without resorting to aggression or unhealthy behaviour.
Research has found that those children who have better prosocial skills – like getting along with others and sharing – at age 5 are more likely finish college & have jobs than kindergartners who struggle with these skills who tend to have issues completing school & risk substance abuse & legal problems.
We can help kick-start their understanding by talking about our own feelings & having our kids elaborate on theirs.
We should give them ways to describe what they’re feeling rather than just reacting – so if a situation upsets them we should teach them words like ’embarrassed’ or ‘nervous’ rather than simply saying that someone was a jerk or using clichés like “I had butterflies in my stomach” that can lead to confusion or misunderstanding later on down the line as well as encourage us both as parent/child relationsips grow and take shape over time!
Just as important is helping them learn mood boosters providing healthy emotional outlets (such as going for a walk, listening/making music etc) so that when overwhelming feels start creeping up on them there are positive options available for calming down.
The Benefits of Healthy Discipline: How to Nurture Self-Control in Your Child
Mentally strong parents understand that discipline is about teaching, not punishing.
They focus on improving their children’s behavior through logical consequences and setting clear expectations.
These parents reinforce positive behavior with rewards, such as offering a special treat if she gets all her chores done during the week.
Rather than using harsh punishments like yelling, shaming or spanking, mentally strong parents help their children gain skills and knowledge so they can be responsible and make smart decisions in life.
Through this approach, kids learn the importance of self-control and how to persevere even when confronted with difficult circumstances.
Mentally strong parents also take the time to self-care; if they are running low on energy and reserves, it’s important to take some time for themselves, whether that’s going for coffee with a friend or working out at the gym.
This helps recharge their batteries so that they have enough energy for making the best choices for them and their child.
Mentally Strong Parents Prioritize Teaching Values That Promote Kindness and Meaningful Life Lessons
Mentally strong parents are aware that their children learn more from watching what they do rather than listening to what they say.
This is why they make sure to behave in accordance with the values they are hoping to instill in their children.
For example, Kyle’s parents believed in valuing academic accomplishment over everything else and instilled this value in their son through their words and actions.
However, when Kyle was caught cheating and kicked out of his college classes, his parents had the opportunity to reflect on their values and how those values were being expressed through their behavior.
Seeing that it was driving him to cheat because he believed achieving a perfect future mattered most, Kyle’s parents realized that they needed to prioritize character and honesty over grades or reputation.
They made the necessary changes in order to show him that these qualities matter far more than success or failure.
By following this example and focusing on aligning their behaviors with the values they wish to teach, mentally strong parents ensure that their children learn about empathy, caring for others, compassion, integrity, respect for self & other people, and other such important life lessons.
They can even create a family mission statement in order to clearly express these intentions – this way everyone within the household knows exactly how each person is expected to behave.
Mentally strong parenting is not easy – it requires effort and change on the part of the parent in order to be a positive role model and influence.
Parents should always be aware of their own motives and values, and avoid trying to parent out of fear or taking shortcuts.
Parents can also help their children become acquainted with all aspects of life, including its hardships.
One particular piece of actionable advice that the book offers is teaching children “how to change the channel” when anxious – to refocus their thoughts on something else, like shooting hoops or baking cupcakes.
By following this advice, parents can set themselves and their children up for success by being mentally strong role models.