A recent editorial in Florida Today sparked my attention when the author suggested that our nation is becoming a bunch of “wusses.” The article implies that anxiety and fear consume our thinking and decision-making. Are we teaching our kids to be soft, and how does this happen? I believe this often starts with the parenting of our children.
Let’s face it, many of us are guilty of overindulging our children, and in some cases, parents’ rescuing behavior prevents their children from persevering and maturing through failure. We make another mistake when we don’t follow through and enforce consequences for bad behaviors. Some even take responsibility for their children’s failures and enable their destructive behaviors by bailing them out from poor choices. Not only do the children not learn from their mistakes, they miss the opportunity to grow through adversity. Instead, what some learn is how to defend themselves, blame others, and justify their position. Remember, the more we do for others, the less they do for themselves.
The reality is that we grow more from adversity than we do from success. What can we do to change things? Resist the urge to catch your children before they fall. Recognize that mental toughness and resilience can be learned, but we have to step aside to allow it to happen. When we hold our children responsible for their actions, expect accountability, and encourage ownership, we can anticipate emotional growth and inner strength. Love your child through adversity, but avoid taking it away. Teach them coping skills to deal with conflict, negative emotions, and hardship. Give them the opportunity to practice these skills in easy and safe situations so that they gain confidence to handle the more difficult circumstances. Reward their efforts and trust in their abilities so that they learn to trust themselves. Going from “wuss” to “winner” requires tenacity and determination through turmoil, which builds integrity, strength, and character.