For children to build their self-confidence, they need opportunities to succeed on their own. But that can’t happen if parents overprotect their kids from every risk.
A few years back, my son Trent and I visited Yosemite National Park, and we got the chance to rappel down a 180-foot granite cliff called the “Prowl.” Trent isn’t usually much of a daredevil, but when our turn came, he didn’t hesitate. He gave me a big grin and over the edge he went. Then I followed right after him.
At first, I stuck as close to him as possible as he tried to get the ropes figured out. But about halfway down I realized that this was a chance for him to discover what he was made of.
“See you at the bottom!” I said, then I zipped by, leaving him to finish the descent on his own.
When he got to the bottom, I could tell his confidence had taken a leap as big as the cliff he’d just conquered. It’s not hard to understand why. He had done something big, something risky, and he had done it all on his own. But that was only possible because I didn’t hover over him and try to over protect him from every nick and scratch.
We have a responsibility to protect our children. No question. But effective parenting doesn’t overprotect. Be there for your kids but recognize that they can only gain confidence in themselves if they’re given a chance to make mistakes or succeed all on their own.
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