Resilient Children


I have a 12 year old daughter and I want her to grow up being independent, strong and resilient. I want her to be able to thrive and face challenges head on. But as a parent, I also want to protect her from harm and I don’t want her to get hurt. I know that protecting her from everything will not help her to be well adjusted as an adult. As a leader at work my goal is to make more leaders. At home, it is the same.

I was excited to read Joanie Connell’s new book, Flying Without A Helicopter. Her new book is It is about parenting, educating, and managing to help young adults build skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. The following is a guest post from Joanie Connell.

Resilient children do not need their parents. That may be an overstatement, but you get the idea. Self-reliant people are empowered to take care of their problems themselves, and they have the inner strength to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

As children become more resilient, they need their parents less, and the parents do not feel as needed. That does not feel good to parents who thrive on feeling needed by their children. In other words, developing resilient children is a hard lesson for both parents and kids. The children have to be left on their own to get through difficult experiences, and the parents don’t get to rescue them. It is tough on both sides, but children and parents are stronger as a result.

One of parents’ fundamental goals is to make themselves unnecessary. Unfortunately, that may be getting forgotten in today’s times. It may not feel good to become unnecessary, and parents may resist it for that reason. At the same time, one of the most important aspects of parenting of children—teens, in particular—is to help them become self-reliant so they can survive on their own as they go off to college and get jobs.

Preventing children from failing stunts their growth. I was at a toddler’s birthday party several years ago, and the moms were trying to come up with some games for the kids to play. One mom suggested musical chairs. “Great idea!” the rest of us said. We gathered up a number of chairs and got some music set up on a portable CD player. The youngsters started to play and the music stopped. I went to remove a chair and a couple moms stopped me. They said the kids were too young to lose. I backed off, and the music started again. The toddlers walked around the chairs and sat down again when the music stopped. The moms cheered them on. The third time, the toddlers got bored and started wandering off. There was no point to the game.

Games have a purpose—to teach children real-life lessons in a safe and fun environment. It is oh-so-tempting as parents to let the children win, but doing that does not help them learn to lose. Of course, I do not recommend playing your most competitive game and pummeling your children every time. That would be silly. But giving them the lesson that “you win some, you lose some” helps them deal with the realities of life.

Flying Without a Helicopter teaches readers what it takes to be successful in the workplace and how to get there. Download a sample chapter here.

Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D., is a talent management expert and career coach for people across job levels, ages, and industries. She works with companies to attract, develop, and retain top talent and she works with individuals to improve their success and happiness in their careers. Learn more about Joanie and her new book, Flying without a Helicopter online at


Photo credit: Pixabay

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