How Bulldozer Parents Create Psychologically Fragile Children

How Bulldozer Parents Create Psychologically Fragile Children If you’re constantly clearing their path of any obstacles, how will your kids find their own way? Shutterstock

An aged-care nurse was recently telling me that their nursing home was seeing most of their World War II veterans pass away, to be replaced by baby boomers. “You know something though,” she quipped “compared to the WWIIs, the baby boomers, well … they’re so … emotionally needy!”

I found this comment very amusing (possibly more than I should have given the context), but as a grand-daughter of four WWII veterans, I knew exactly what she was talking about. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They were all, as a result, tough old birds.

They also had a great sense of perspective. They had all lost dearly loved ones in brutal circumstances and did not waste time stressing over what we would now term “first world problems”.

But surely, I hear you cry, something like a war causes untold psychological damage and widespread mental health problems! Well here’s the conundrum: during WWII and the period shortly after, mental health-related mortality was at its lowest.

Now there’s a range of reasons for this beyond the scope of this article. But one aspect that most psychologists agree upon is that working together to find solutions to overcome a serious problem (Hitler), even when it involves high risk and high cost, is surprisingly good for building community resilience. It also keeps your individual focus on the bigger picture and prevents you from ruminating and dwelling on a range of perceived negatives, that relatively speaking, aren’t that important after all.

Letting your kids fail

Fast forward to today’s culture, in particular the experiences we provide for our children in preparation for their lives ahead. I recently wrote an article outlining how the developing human brain “wires itself” to the environment in which it finds itself. Essentially, parents have a terrific opportunity to offer constructive experiences to their child in order to shape their brain (and therefore psychological) development, especially during “critical” or sensitive periods where the brain is most receptive and malleable.

How Bulldozer Parents Create Psychologically Fragile Children Kids can’t learn from their mistakes if you wrap them in cotton wool. Shutterstock


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

One thing that has fallen off the radar of modern parents is the importance of offering genuinely challenging tasks that give the child the opportunity to fail. That’s right, fail! Because in the face of failure children will need to develop some effective coping strategies to deal with their emotions; they will then need to figure out what they did wrong; and finally, adapt their approach and try again in a different way.

“Failure”, however, appears to have become a dirty word in modern parenting. In fact, avoidance of failure (and a total disregard for how important it is in progressing child development) appears to have become somewhat of an obsession in the modern parenting cohort.

Vaccinate against stress

Imagine you want your child to become a competent bike rider. The way I would suggest you do this is to start your child young, when the brain’s motor development is most receptive. Give them some training wheels to start, but little by little release your grip, even if that means they might fall off the bike a few times and risk injury. Then keep upping the ante, as they master each step, have them ride on different terrain, in harder circumstances.

This strategy will provide them with “stress inoculation” - small amounts of stress will give the child the opportunity to learn adaptive coping strategies. This “vaccinates” the child psychologically so they can respond in an adaptive and functional manner when a larger stressor comes their way.

This allows the child to learn adaptive coping functions that build failure-tolerance and resilience. Figuring out for themselves how to meet increasingly difficult challenges will build self-confidence and encourage goal-striving across the lifespan.

Let them learn what life is actually like

How Bulldozer Parents Create Psychologically Fragile Children Kids have to know what life is really like out there. Shutterstock

However, the bulldozer parent takes a completely different approach. In a passive-aggressive manner they forge ahead before their child, removing all obstacles, ensuring success at every turn.

Has anyone found that is how life works when you get out there in the real world? Smooth sailing all the way?

A bulldozer style of parenting, while terribly well-intentioned and meant to “protect” the child from short-term harm, ultimately results in a psychologically fragile child, fearful and avoidant of failure, with never-learned coping strategies and poor resilience.

Now I’m not going to suggest we need something as drastic as a war to harden up our children’s psychological health. However, leaving a few natural challenges and obstacles in their path doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

The long-term negative consequences of obsessively protecting children from encountering difficulty ensures they won’t learn to solve problems, won’t learn to bounce back from failure and won’t learn to adapt their approach. In short, they won’t learn the skills they need to navigate their way to a successful future.The Conversation

About The Author

Rachael Sharman, Lecturer in Psychology, University of the Sunshine Coast

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=parenting styles;maxresults=3}

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration
 

INNERSELF VOICES

What Does Our Authority Rest Upon?
Transitioning from Authoritarian "Outer" Authority to Spiritual "Inner" Authority
by Pierre Pradervand
For thousands of years, ever since mankind started settling in cities, we evolved in rigid,…
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
by Ervin Laszlo
Talk of fundamental change in the world around us is often met with skepticism. Change in society,…
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
by Peter Ruppert
We all experience positive and negative self-talk on a regular basis. Whether you realize it or…
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
by Stacee L. Reicherzer PhD
If you’ve contracted COVID, you not only had health problems that may have been life-threatening,…
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
by Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.
The most important question is not how to survive biodiversity loss, climate disruption, ecological…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
by Mary J. Cronin, Ph.D.
One approach that addresses the challenges families face today comes down to a familiar but often…

MOST READ

Is Your Bedroom Sacred?
Is Your Bedroom Sacred? Honoring Your Personal Sanctuary
by Jon Robertson
The bedroom is home to our prayers and dreams, our solitude and sexuality. In this inner sanctum,…
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
by Tara N. Richards and Justin Nix, University of Nebraska Omaha
Experts expected the increase in domestic violence victims seeking help last year (2020). Victims…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
How to Meet the Ambitious Target of Conserving 30% of Earth by 2030
How to Meet the Ambitious Target of Conserving 30% of Earth by 2030
by Matthew Mitchell, University of British Columbia
Fifty-five nations, including Canada, the European Union, Japan and Mexico have pledged to meet the…
Baby Bees Love Carbs – Here's Why That Matters
Baby Bees Love Carbs – Here's Why That Matters
by James Gilbert, University of Hull and Elizabeth Duncan, University of Leeds
Wild bees are essential for sustaining the landscapes we love. A healthy community of wild…
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
by Peter Ruppert
We all experience positive and negative self-talk on a regular basis. Whether you realize it or…
COVID-19: Does Exercising Really Reduce The Risk?
COVID-19: Does Exercising Really Reduce The Risk?
by Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, University of Oxford
A new US study shows that people who are less physically active are more likely to be hospitalised…
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
by Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge
The 1970s anti-sexist men’s movement had an infrastructure of magazines, conferences, men’s centres…
What Does Our Authority Rest Upon?
Transitioning from Authoritarian "Outer" Authority to Spiritual "Inner" Authority
by Pierre Pradervand
For thousands of years, ever since mankind started settling in cities, we evolved in rigid,…
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
by Clare Mehta, Emmanuel College
If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what would it be? Would you choose to be nine…
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
by Mary J. Cronin, Ph.D.
One approach that addresses the challenges families face today comes down to a familiar but often…
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
by Dawn R. Mitchell White, University of South Florida
Many children with autism struggle to find the words to express how they feel. But when it comes to…
Oscars 2021: COVID-19 Has Rekindled A 'Back to the Future' Love of Movies
Oscars 2021: COVID-19 Has Rekindled A 'Back to the Future' Love of Movies
by Kim Nelson, University of Windsor
Cinemas were not how people originally watched movies. There are signs that home viewing will be be…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.