Earlier in the week, our practice worked with a family where we conducted a brain map (QEEG) for their daughter, who is on the spectrum. During the session, Dad repeatedly offered help and guidance to their teenager. This exchange offered many reminders for me to address this problem and other common strategies that fail children in the long run.

In the upcoming series of articles, I will review several parenting practices that ultimately create struggles for children in adolescence and adulthood. More than ever, we have access to many opinions and insights into parenting. Yet, the general tendency of the population is to do one of two very natural things: First, we tend to follow the herd around us, partly because technology puts the decisions of the ‘herd’ in front of us incessantly. And herd tendencies are hard-wired into our DNA for survival. Secondly, we are also wired to invoke parenting strategies from childhood, either in agreement or diametrically opposed to what our parents offered us. Both of these lock us into patterns of parenting that fail our children.

In this first article, we will discuss the critical role of teaching a fundamental lesson to life happiness and a strong sense of self-confidence: Who is responsible?

Lesson 1: Who is going to fix the problem?

As children age, each developmental stage brings its lessons. Indeed, the lessons of the toddler stage are quite different from those of the teenager. Yet, the essence of our internal strength, or self-esteem, begins with how much confidence we build internally in handling life’s challenges.

Said differently, children must be allowed to experience the ‘problems’ of their age/development and learn to fix them independently. If we understand this, we also understand that learning from these critical lessons often comes with a struggle. It’s just not that easy to acquire some lessons!

Also, those struggles will likely include tears, drama, and upset as they realize they do not always get their way. Inherent in this process is the refined art of whining, which often becomes second nature to his process.

  • I’m upset about something I don’t like or want. Change it now!
  • My brother doesn’t share. It’s not fair.
  • Reading or math is hard, so I don’t want to do it. Help me.
  • I didn’t get it (right away), so I quit. It’s too hard.
  • Nobody wants to play with me. They are all so mean.
  • I want to watch TV/have my phone/play videos as late

“I’ll Help You. I Will Fix It or Tell You How to Fix It.”

When we experience our children struggling, whining, or upset with challenges like those listed above, we have one of two choices. We can immediately (and repeatedly) jump in with guidance, advice and start solving the problem for them. We become the fixer or the problem, solver-always having the answer. Mom or Dad as incessant fixers or coaches is commonly modeled in our society, and it comes with the following unspoken but lethal message: “Sweetheart, you can’t figure this out…so I will do it for you.”

Consider how this message gets translated and implanted in your child’s subconscious brain thousands and thousands of times: “You don’t get it. You don’t get it. You don’t get it. Sweetheart, let me do it because you don’t get it.”

Is there any doubt why so many of our brilliant, capable, and competent children cannot cope with the demands of college, work, and daily life?

Please understand: Such parenting patterns destroy inner strength! We fall into this dangerous trap when we think it is our job to keep fixing these common developmental moments. It’s understandable because we feel we are doing something; our children often want mom or dad to fix it. Yet, our behavior, while well-intentioned, is stripping away self-esteem.

“Have Faith in Your Child’s Ability to GET IT… So They Can Have Faith in Themselves”

When we deeply believe in our children, we know they will figure it out. It may not be pretty or easeful or without struggle. But they will get through it, and they will figure it out. And not how you perhaps want them to ‘figure it out.’ But it will happen, and such experiences provide the foundation of self-esteem.

We allow them the struggle. We allow the frustration, the wishing it was easy, and the disappointment. We don’t try to fix all that.

Indeed, we can coach once or twice, but not repeatedly. And we can be aware of the moments representing a sincere and worthy challenge that requires our help. But most of the ‘fixing’ we do for our children… we must stop. If we don’t stop, we communicate a lack of readiness to handle life, which becomes a deep belief that resists change and thwarts opportunity and satisfaction.

Never Work Harder Than Your Child at Their Happiness, Success, or Challenges.

Believe in them. Have faith in their ability to figure it out. In doing so, the magic begins to happen. Children realize that it’s their job to get through their struggles and that they are competent to do so. This is the secret to genuine self-esteem and personal strength. In fact, you can give your child no greater gift than the deeply felt sense of certainty that “I can do this. I can figure this out. I WILL get through this.”

To learn more about our practice and the power of Neurofeedback technology to aid your or your child’s ability to thrive, check us out at CapitalDistrictNeurofeedback.com.