How Not to Raise Anxious Children!
No one wants to raise an anxious child. However, recent research and widespread news blasts suggest the rising rate of anxiety in children, although counter-intuitive, may be linked to their lack of freedom and opportunity to take risks. Parents often assume it’s their responsibility to keep children safe at all costs and protect their children from making mistakes.
How can children learn behavior has consequences if they are robbed of the very experiences that will teach them? Sadly, we do not learn from the mistakes of others. The secret is to allow or create experiences that challenge children appropriately at every developmental stage. Toddlers can climb big rocks and develop coordination and balance. They might fall and get bruised but the growing confidence and independence gained are worth the risk. Around the world playgrounds are being developed that include rocks, logs, mud, and materials for children to manipulate without prescribed outcomes.
Think of your child at age 12. No parent wants to see risk-prone adolescents experiment with substances or behaviors that have potential life-altering consequences. The best way to prepare adolescents to make confident, good decisions is to support their growing independence along the way. Let them take age-appropriate risks; accept their mistakes as learning opportunities. If children procrastinate getting a school assignment done on time, the consequence is theirs, not yours.
Every time parents do something for children they could do themselves the message is: “you need me.” Children internalize that message at an early age and demand service. They become convinced “I can’t” instead of “I can.” Learned helplessness is a scary thing when today’s anxious college students demand professors justify poor grades to their parents.
Encourage your children from the time they are toddlers through their adolescent years to reach out, try new things, and accept responsibility for their own behavior. Allow them to learn from their mistakes and develop the self-confidence to become productive, balanced young adults in high school and beyond.
“The surest way to make life difficult for your children is to make it too easy for them. Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child” (Betsy Brown Braun).
Head of School
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.