Hillary Chybinski: Are We Raising Tyrants? 5 Tips for Keeping Kids (and teens) Kind and Resilient

Friday, July 31, 2015

Are We Raising Tyrants? 5 Tips for Keeping Kids (and teens) Kind and Resilient

In our quest to keep our children happy, could we be turning them into tyrants? This thought crossed my mind the other day as I got a simple request for a bagel. That's fine - it was the semi-order to not cook it too much or make it too light, that got my thoughts churning (and my blood boiling a bit if I'm honest).

Parenting is hard, here are 5 ways you can help keep your kids kind and resilient from toddlerhood to the teen years.

I recently read a quote - and if it belongs to you - please comment because I would love to give you proper credit!
"There's a difference between tragedy and burnt toast." 
Ironic in light of the bagel conversation - right? But it's become the mantra of the summer in my parental development. I struggle with perfectionism, which makes me difficult for my family at times. I admit it, and it's something I work on (thank you Joy and Release). As I see perfectionist traits pop up in kids, I want them to remember this quote. I don't want to be a tyrant, nor do I want to raise them.

When something happens - is it a tragedy? Or is it simply burnt toast? Will this stop us in our tracks, or can we toss it and move on rather quickly? Kindness and resilience can take us far in life. How do we begin to teach our kids to be gracious when they don't get their way, and to move on?I've been reading some books lately and researching the internet, and here are 5 tips I've come up with to help:

Provide opportunities for your child or teen to practice. Want your teen to clear the table? Don't reward them. Start to teach them that this is something we do because we all live here together and it's a team effort. Making a household run smoothly takes a village, and he/she is part of that village. Kids (ok teens) can be dense. Sometimes you have to spell it out, "I've had a really terrible day and I'd love it if you could clear the table without whining about it."

Help them see outside their own circle. Each year, we take a family vacation to the beach and go on the rides at the boardwalk. My kids almost always thank the ride operator when they get off. Since they were first able to speak, I have tried to model that we say please and thank you. This includes the bus driver that drops us off every day, the cashier that gives us our change, and the trash guys that come to collect our trash. It's a natural tendency of children (and teens) to see themselves. It's our job to help them see more.

Don't accommodate every need. This is a hard one, and one I need to remind myself of daily. In our technology-driven world, it's easy for your teen to text you about their forgotten gym shorts. If you're me and you are lucky enough to work from home, you grab them, add a post-it note with their name on it and drive it over to school. But we really need to push the responsibility off on them, and allow them to suffer the consequences when they forget. I am big on getting my kids to prepare their school or camp bags the night before. It becomes a routine and cuts down on forgotten items.

Change "why" questions to "how" questions. This is a biggie for me right now. Instead of asking my kids why they did (or didn't) do something, (the answer is almost always, "I don't know") I've started asking them how we can fix it. "Why didn't you start your math packet yet?" becomes, "How are you going to get your math packet done before school starts?" I want to encourage them to problem-solve and if they need help, they can come to me or their dad for input.

Don't provide all the answers. We are parents not Google. Even though we may feel pretty confident that we do in fact know everything, we don't want our children to know that - yet. However, I will admit that kids today have it easier than we did. I can remember my mother calling me a cretin. I asked her what it meant, and she promptly told me to look it up. Of course I was probably 14 or 15 and refused. This continued for some time . . .until I eventually caved and looked it up. (In a dictionary - NOT on Google) From that day on, I have never ever forgotten what it means, and I am able to use the word myself. Help smaller kids find answers together (online safety and all) and talk about what you discover.

So these five tips may not change your children over-night. I am pretty sure the bagel requests will keep coming. But just maybe, they will remember to say please, and the teen will fix his own. And I have to remember that when they forget, it's only burnt toast.

What tips do you have for raising kind and resilient kids?

catch you soon -

1 comment:

  1. It's good to read that I'm doing it right with my girls! haha I too don't reward things that they should do and I make sure they are grateful and thankful for the little things. At the dinner table, I always have they say wha they are thankful for that day. I usually have to model for them since they will usually just say "my mom, my dad, my friends." But I'll chime in with "Aren't you thankful that you're able to do the camp you love?" or "Aren't you glad that your new dentist wasn't a scary experience?" We also do little things like, whenever a car slows down to let us cross a street, I always have them wave and say thanks. It's just a good habit.