One of the many challenges of being a parent is how hard it is to push your child towards something new – or stick with something they are considering giving up – and when to back down. I am a mom of two and I often feel myself swinging between being arrogant and relaxed. Like: No, you don’t have to exercise if you think it’s not your thing. Of course, you can skip that camp which makes you nervous. But also, you have to be courageous when things seem scary and learn to take new opportunities even when you are not sure of yourself. Here we go.
Of course, knowing when you are pushing too hard, or not hard enough, is an art, not a science, and very specific to that. No one can ever really tell where this great place is, and parents and kids might never agree. (Twenty years later, my own mother still sometimes laments that I gave up the trumpet, an instrument I was really terrible at, in high school.)
Are you trying to figure out when to push your child to try something new, or when to empower him to stop something he says he doesn’t like? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Ask yourself: am I doing this for myself or for them?
Again, no one can tell you if you are doing the right thing by getting your child to try something that they are not particularly excited about. But a quick bowel check can help.
“Make it clear why you are asking your child to do something new,” said Robbin McManne, founder of Parenting for Connection.
Ask yourself the question: are they doing this for me? Or do I do this for them?
As parents, we sometimes push kids into things that have more to do with ourselves for a number of reasons. We can compare them and ourselves to other children and families, and we feel worried about falling behind. Or maybe we were pushed into certain things when we were kids. Maybe we cling to the idea that kids “should” do certain things, but we’re not even sure where that idea came from.
On the other hand, you might be pushing your child because you really think it’s an important experience, whatever it is, and one that will really help him in the long run. And there are benefits to pushing kids beyond their comfort zone – for the right reasons.
“We know that being able to tolerate discomfort is a wonderful life trait, and on top of that, it makes [kids] grainy and tougher, ”said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, child and adolescent psychiatrist and founding president of the Child Mind Institute, in a blog post on the group’s website.
So really ask yourself, “Do you meet them where they are, or where you think they should be?” McManne said.
In order to determine how hard you need to push your child, it is essential to fully understand why they are resisting or setting limits.
“Curiosity is everything,” McManne said. “Ask them why? How to come?”
It might seem obvious, but when we’re busy parenting – and feeling frustrated that our kids aren’t just sticking to our plans – it’s easy to stop taking that time to get to the root of the hesitation. children. There might be a problem that you can solve together. Or maybe your child is really showing you a personal limit that you need to stick to.
“Ask yourself: are they doing this for me? Or do I do this for them?
Helping children develop their emotional intelligence, or EQ, from an early age can help in this process, as it helps them name what they are feeling.
Sometimes when you ask why your child isn’t interested in something that you think they should be, you may discover a more important underlying issue that you can help with.
“Sometimes when you push the kids, you run into a real limitation. It could be an anxiety disorder or a learning disability, ”Koplewicz explained on the CMI website. It’s not that they don’t want to do it; is that it is really too hard without additional and specific support.
Make it easy
When your child is really reluctant to try something new, it’s important to respect that, McManne said, and take it slow. Just as you would probably like someone to take their time and be nice to you if you learned a new skill or, say, started a new job and tried to learn the ropes.
“You offer compromises,” she said. So let’s say you have a toddler who is really hesitant to go in the pool during swimming lessons. Model confidence, said McManne, and take it slow. Maybe they just set foot in the beginning. Maybe you sit by the pool with them. Again, your goal is to meet them where they are and then push them forward.
McManne said she often spoke to clients about an idea from the book “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity and Resilience in Your Child,” which explains how parents should “push” while acting as the “” cushion.”
Encourage your child to try new things and overcome the discomfort, as this is a skill that will help them develop resilience and serve them well in life. But respect their limits and be empathetic.
“You have to be that sweet place for your kid to land,” McManne said.