LEARN­ING TO It could be the big­gest gift you give your chil­dren – letting them fail and af­ford­ing them the op­por­tu­nity of learn­ing from their mis­takes

Your Baby & Toddler - - Talking Point - BY JU­LIA BOLTT

We par­ents a r e hy­per­sen­si­tised to risk – and who can blame us? Af­ter all, we live in a coun­try with epi­demic-level vi­o­lent crime, so our fear lev­els are as high as our walls. We want our kids in a di­rect line of sight 24/7. Which one of us has ever let our kids ride their bikes in an (un­gated) road without a hel­met, or play un­su­per­vised on a jun­gle gym? And who of us hasn’t in­ter­vened to re­di­rect a play­date when things get frac­tious? Hover, hover, hover. It’s a nat­u­ral in­stinct to want to pro­tect your chil­dren, keep them from harm, fa­cil­i­tate their friend­ships and smoothe the bumps in the road for them so that their child­hood isn’t too up­set­ting or stress­ful. But is it the right thing to do? New re­search says no – that over­par­ent­ing your chil­dren can have a big im­pact on the kind of adults they be­come.

who con­trol and di­rect their child’s ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion, whether it’s to guide them away from climb­ing that high jun­gle gym at the park, or in­ter­ven­ing at the first sign of a squab­ble dur­ing a play­date, is in­ad­ver­tently rob­bing their child of the op­por­tu­nity to fail – to make their own mis­takes, to learn through their in­ter­ac­tions and to de­velop the tools and re­sources that will guide them through the world in the years to come.

In her book, The Gift of Fail­ure, teacher and au­thor Jes­sica La­hey ex­plains that “to­day’s over­pro­tec­tive, fail­ure-avoidant par­ent­ing style has un­der­mined the com­pe­tence, in­de­pen­dence and aca­demic po­ten­tial of an en­tire gen­er­a­tion.” Fur­ther­more, she says, “Out of love and de­sire to pro­tect our chil­dren’s self es­teem, we have bull­dozed ev­ery un­com­fort­able bump and ob­sta­cle out of their way, clear­ing the man­i­cured path we hoped would lead to suc­cess and hap­pi­ness. Un­for­tu­nately, in do­ing so we have de­prived our chil­dren of the most im­por­tant lessons of child­hood. The set­backs, mis­takes, mis­cal­cu­la­tions and fail­ures we have shoved out of our chil­dren’s way are the very ex­pe­ri­ences that teach them how to be re­source­ful, per­sis­tent, in­no­va­tive, and re­silient cit­i­zens of the world.”

In­stead of in­ad­ver­tently ex­tend­ing our chil­dren’s de­pen­dence on us, Jes­sica ad­vo­cates for a style of par­ent­ing she calls au­ton­o­my­sup­port­ive par­ent­ing. The ba­sis of au­ton­omy-sup­port­ive par­ent­ing is that we al­low our chil­dren to learn through ex­pe­ri­ence rather than try­ing to shield them from fail­ures and dis­ap­point­ments, while still pro­vid­ing them with a re­as­sur­ing, car­ing and sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment. easy to un­der­es­ti­mate a twoyear-old or a three- or fouryear-old and fear for them and not want them to get hurt. No par­ent wants their child to get hurt, but the odd tum­ble off a jun­gle gym or a fight with a friend is some­thing they will re­cover from,” she adds. In­deed, these ex­pe­ri­ences teach our chil­dren lessons to take with them in the fu­ture, lessons they need to learn for fu­ture suc­cess.

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