Kanika: I heard you mention in a recent interview that it wasn’t your job to “make your kids happy” and it stopped me in my tracks. I mean, making sure someone else is happy is a tall order (and might I mention impossible), but so many parents assume that role. I know I did. If happiness isn’t the goal, what is?
Stephanie: Yes, I can totally relate. It’s so natural to assume that responsibility. But once you acknowledge that it’s an impossible task and start focusing on the things you do have control over, a huge weight lifts.
- Give them power over their decisions, even the wrong ones.
- If kids are fighting you to put on shoes or a raincoat, once I said, “Okay, don’t wear shoes” or “Okay, don’t wear a raincoat” and when they felt the direct consequences of their decision, they were able to make better decisions in the future
- Give them agency over their success and failures
- Ex. not checking homework — allowing the teacher to build a direct relationship with the student and hold them accountable
- Support them as they experience a full range of emotions
- You can’t control their feelings — sadness, elation and disappointment are all part of life, so instead help them develop tools to be able to cope with these emotions
- Build resilience