Last week I discussed the difficulties that some young adults have in being self-motivated, self-disciplined, and self-confident. Possibly in an effort to differentiate from our parents’ generation, we have showered our children with praise, attention, stimulation, and material possessions. Instead of teaching them how to problem-solve their way through conflict, communicate effectively, and manage their negative emotions, we’ve sought to fix their problems. The good news is, it’s never too late to change your approach.
What can we do differently today? For starters, parents need to be consistent with rules and discipline even when it’s not convenient. Structure, consistency, and stability creates safety and security for children, otherwise they learn to manipulate and split parents. Another important issue is to expect accountability. Any entrepreneur knows that employees need to held accountable if they want to be successful; family life is no different. Unfortunately, some parents assume an all-or-nothing approach, either by micromanaging through over-protectiveness or providing no direction and then being intolerant of failure. Seek moderation in your style and approach, but follow though on consequences for actions. Some young adults are boundary violators, whether it be physical, emotional, financial, or relational. For example, they may express themselves inappropriately, lie about spending your money, destroy your belongings, or disclose personal information you shared in confidence. Boundary setting may as simple as saying no, though of course that is not always easy to do.
Lastly, validate your children’s emotions when they are expressed in a healthy and appropriate fashion. Teach them coping skills that will result in resiliency and positive ways to successfully work through negative emotions. Lashing out or shutting down will not enable a person to successfully work through their feelings. Validation is not agreeing with their emotions, instead it is acknowledging and accepting their feelings even if you don’t fully understand them. Encourage ownership of their responsibilities, emotions, achievements, and efforts so that they can develop internal confidence. If you have an interest in reading more about this issue, check out my article: The Pendulum Effect: Striking A Balance In Raising Children or listen to one of my podcasts.