Kids rely on us for so much, including basically everything when they’re babies and still mostly everything by the time they’ve graduated to “little kid” status. But according to one psychologist, an easy way to help them build their resilience and confidence as young as six or seven years old is by relying on them for a little help and support.
Kids don’t need to be punished. They need to be told why their behavior was wrong and how they can make it right.
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) January 26, 2020
“You need to feel that other people rely on you; I think parents often miss that with children,” he says in the video. “We feel that it’s our job to teach them, to protect them, to care for them. And we don’t ever give them the chance then to build their own resilience by helping us solve problems. And so, I think that one of the ways we can put this advice into action is to ask our kids for guidance once in a while.”
One way Grant says he does this is by talking to his kids about his own nervousness over, say, a big speech he has coming up. He asks them how he should manage that anxiety, and they might offer suggestions for him, such as taking deep, calming breaths or practicing the speech several times to get more comfortable with it.
Relying on your kids for help or advice shows them that you have confidence in them and that they have something to contribute to others. And the next time they feel anxious about something, he says, they may think back on their own advice for getting through it.
I do this in little ways with my own nine-year-old son and I’ve also seen how it can help kids build their problem-solving skills. Back in November, when he and I were shopping for a new Christmas tree in a crowded store, we discovered that there was only one left of the style we wanted—and it was way up on the top shelf, out of reach. I stared up at it for a moment and then glanced around to see if there were any store employees nearby. Without missing a beat, my son said, “I’ll stay here and guard it while you go find someone to help us get it down.”
It was a conclusion I likely would have come to on my own a few seconds later, but he had the confidence in his own problem-solving ability to not wait for me to figure it out. And I remember how proud he looked when I said, “Great idea! Thanks, buddy, I’ll be right back.”
So the next time you’re mulling over a work presentation you’re nervous about or you’re trying to figure out how to do two things at one time, ask your kids. They might have some ideas.