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August 4, 2014

Championing Your Child

Image: Flickr/Lotus Carroll

Image: Flickr/Lotus Carroll

“If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.” (Bruce Barton)

One of the startling truths about parental anxiety is that it often prompts us to try to stamp out the very qualities and skills that will serve our children best in adulthood. We get so frustrated at their refusal to take our first “no” for an answer, yet that’s the exact skill they’ll learn in Sales and Negotiation 101. We openly complain about our “strong-willed child,” but if we want our kids to resist peer pressure, then they better have a strong-will.

The same thing happens when it comes to being spirited, excitable, and enthusiastic. We love it when our kids are fired up on the ball field, or highly-motivated to finish a school project. But when they’re passionate about achieving a new level on a videogame, or just plain giddy, giggly, and loud, we get annoyed.

Our job is not to stifle our kids’ emotions when they seem inappropriate, or misapplied, or just too exuberant. Our job is to calmly steer those emotions into productive expression. This could mean sometimes allowing their good mood to brighten ours, especially when we’ve had a bad day. This could mean consciously observing our child and discovering what they’re really passionate about — and then championing that passion.

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