Over-Parenting and Self Efficacy

What we want for our kids

For many of us, one of the hardest things to do is to let our child make mistakes. We want our child to be safe, guarded and shielded from the world. Moreover, we want our child to avoid the pitfalls we suffered from, and achieve so much more than we ever did. So we may push our child to excel and constantly go farther and higher.

But is this the best thing for our child?

The problem is that when one is constantly shielded and pushed to be as perfect as possible without any room for mistakes, one does not truly learn to avoid mistakes, and worse yet, one does not trust his or her self to handle a problem that arises.

That feeling of ability is crucial for raising a happy child who will become a healthy and content adult.

Different types of problems

Now it’s true, there are some things in life that we don’t want our children to ever experience, period. We all want our children to avoid true and deep suffering, violence, drugs, alcoholism and unnecessary tattoos…. 🙂

But most of the things we deal with, are not life threatening, and will not get our child incarcerated.  Most things are just regular mistakes that will not ruin a life, but can be avoided, if the child would only listen, for heaven’s sake!

Self efficacy

This is where Self Efficacy comes into play. As Wikipedia summarizes it –

“Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task”

If a child does not try things out, make decisions, call the shots and conduct her or his own life (in moderation of course), this can lead to low self efficacy.

Part of making your own decisions is realizing that a decision has consequences and that you have to pay for your mistakes, but the positive flipside, is the realization that you can actually solve your own problems! You can make a change. You can make things happen in your life.

This is a very empowering notion for a child (and for an adult).

So, next time you’re worried your child is about to make a mistake, think twice before pre-correcting her

How to be happy

That feeling of ability is crucial for raising a happy child who will become a healthy and content adult. One must feel that the world will not overwhelm him, and that everything is manageable. One must feel that she has the power and mental capacity to deal, come what may.

On the other hand, we still want our kids to lead a successful life, right? So how do we balance this with giving them space for their own mistakes?

Julie Lythcott-Haims gave a great talk that addresses this point:

So, next time you’re worried your child is about to make a mistake, think twice before pre-correcting her, maybe this is a true moment of growth for the years to come.

We’d love to know if there’s a specific field where you let your kids do their own thing, feel free to sound off in the comments.

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