how to raise a fragile child

How to Raise a Fragile Child

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Life is hard. I know—shocking, right? You certainly know that. Whether you’ve had a relatively easy life or one marred with hardship and pain, you know that part of life is facing and overcoming adversity. Since we all know this, you would think it would be of high value for us to raise resilient children who not only can survive adversity but can thrive as they move through it.

Unfortunately, for far too many of us, it is not. It’s not that we don’t want to raise resilient kids; of course we do. It’s just that most parents I talk to are so anxious about depriving their child of the joy of being a child that we in fact encourage fragility instead of resilience. Want to know how to raise a fragile child? Here are 3 popular methods.

1. Celebrate results.

Sure, we all want our kids to get A’s, to have a starting spot on the team, and to be adored by all of their friends. It’s natural to want this. However, it’s important that we not celebrate these things in and of themselves, but the character of the child. Often the ability to achieve the results we want is not entirely in our control, and if our value is wrapped up in the results, life will be a roller coaster.

Instead, we should focus on character formation. It’s who our children are becoming that will determine how they handle the inevitable ups and downs in life. A resilient adult is one who is rooted in values rather than results.

It’s who our children are becoming that will determine how they handle the inevitable ups and downs in life.

2. Blame others.

It’s the teacher’s fault your child failed. That jerk coach is why your child isn’t starting. Those bratty kids are so mean. This is our tendency as parents. We want to divert the responsibility to someone else to ease the pain a child feels. While this is certainly understandable, it’s also a key lesson in how to raise a fragile child.

Instead, help your child honestly face the sadness he or she feels. And of course, teachers, coaches, and peers might be in the wrong. You can and should acknowledge that. At the same time, those are also things your child cannot control. So rather than teach your child to blame others, help him or her learn to deal with difficult people, and how he or she might actually bear some responsibility in the relationship. And when a child has been genuinely wronged by others, it’s never too early to learn the gift of forgiveness.

3. Avoid risks.

We are a risk-averse culture. Some of this is good. We’ve learned people need to wear seatbelts when driving, helmets when riding bikes, and sunscreen when in the sun. But we can take this too far. We can remove all potential, not just for injury, but for failure itself from our kids ensuring that they only ever hear praise and encouragement.

This feels great in the moment but is ultimately how to raise a fragile child. Our kids need to take risks and fail. They need both figuratively and literally to learn by falling down and having to pick themselves back up. This teaches them that pain isn’t permanent, that they’re stronger than they think, that they can learn and adapt to overcome obstacles. In short, it teaches them how to thrive even in the midst of adversity.

Sound off: What would you add to our list?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to be resilient?”