Encouraging our kids is a natural part of parenting. We want them to have the best experiences, to grow up confident, strong, and flexible in their approach to how they will navigate life. We want to teach them skills that will benefit them as they grow up. In all, we only want what is best for them.
There may come a time, however, when we have to question whether we are pushing them too hard or not enough.
Knowing When To Push
In many ways, we parent as a result of our own experiences. We may think we know what’s best for our kids and lean towards skills, practices, and events which we enjoyed as a kid. As a result of that, we often relay to our kids what worked for us. And because of that life experience, in many cases, we may be more observant of the possible outcomes of a situation and can balance the risks, unlike our kids who are still learning and navigating their younger years.
For this reason, we often push our kids a little harder than they may be ready for. In many ways, we are protecting them while encouraging and challenging them. But knowing when to push comes down to one thing – knowing your child.
When encouraging our kids to take on new challenges, to step outside of their comfort zone, to see things through, and to tolerate a little uncertainty, we have to take into consideration their personalities, capabilities, and interests. We may think they need more time socialising with other kids and encourage a move into sport by signing them up for GAA, but perhaps they would prefer a coding or chess club instead. Watching out for our kid's motivations and working with them in that manner will work better than pushing them unnecessarily into an area they are not passionate about.
Knowing When Our Kids Will Push Back
There is a fine line between encouraging our kids to step out of their comfort zone and believing we know what is best for them. Kids can push back and retaliate when we give them gentle, but repetitive pushes in a certain direction. Whether it is to encourage them in their schoolwork, sports, or even socially, we can hinder our kids by pushing in a way that will have them acting out in defiance. It’s possible we may even aggravate anxiety, stress, or worry as they envisage our expectations are greater than what they actually are.
When our kids are overwhelmed, we have to reassess our own priorities and motivations in encouraging them in certain ways, and focus on supporting them with their mental wellbeing. We can scaffold our kids as they grow and learn while supporting them in being successful and happy. Knowing that we are approachable and supportive of their limits will help our kids to see things through.