No free parking!

These days children have to endure so much. Harsh words and nastiness are the order of the day. Most of the time no-one step in to defend those who are being scolded, humiliated, bullied and accused. Sometimes this happens on social media without you knowing!

What do we do with these negative messages? If you take it to heart, it becomes part of a weak self-image and insecurity that can take you off course. How can we build our children’s (and our own) resilience against criticism, insults and humiliation? By teaching our children to guard their minds and hearts and only allow those who genuinely care about them to have an impact.

Use this analogy. Your child’s mind are like a shopping mall’s parking lot with many parking spaces. However, we should teach our children that no-one should be granted “free parking”. Every thought that comes to “park” in their minds will determine how they will think about themselves and in the end it will further determine their behaviour and reactions. There are many entrances to the parking area and each entrance has a gate. We need to give our children keys to these gates by explaining how to guard these entrances. This will enable them to protect their minds and hearts. By teaching our children not to allow ‘free parking’ they can filter out hurtful words.

Only those who love your child and have your child’s best interests at heart may “park” their words. Teach your child to guard the gates to their minds and hearts, for example:

“… I can see you want to fight, but I’m not interested …”

“… your words are rude and unkind, so I’m walking away …”

“… I can’t listen to you because you’re talking without knowing the situation or

without love or consideration for me …”

Emotional resilience is particularly crucial during teenage development, as adolescents are more susceptible to criticism, insults, and humiliation. By teaching teenagers to filter comments and feedback based on whether they come from a place of love and genuine interest, we can help them develop a strong sense of self-worth and the ability to protect their minds and hearts from negativity. Teach your teenage daughter to filter all commentary on, for example her performance at school, by this criteria: “Does this person love me? Do these words come from a place of sincere interest?” Encourage her to talk to a trusted adult if she feels judged or treated unfairly. Make sure to provide her with a supportive environment that encourages her self-confidence.