Preparing Children for the Adult World Where Not Everyone Gets a Trophy

By Dianne Smith, LMFT

In today’s world, we as a society, have become so concerned with damaging our children’s self esteem that as a result they are not adequately prepared for the challenges and responsibilities of the adult world.  How are we suppose to help children understand that life is not always fair, so that when they face rejection in their adult life they are able to be resilient and bounce back when, for instance, we make sure that in sports every child gets a trophy?  The challenge as parents is how we balance helping children feel confident and good about themselves, while at the same time helping them learn to manage disappointments, adversity and the bumps in the road of life.

Helping others through community service can provide children with the experience of having a positive effect on the world around them, and give them a sense of mastery and self-esteem.  Volunteer work helps them to learn that life does not just happen to you and that you have choices and empowers them to face adversity and bounce back.  Community service as a family simply adds to the experience as it creates a stronger sense of family, which builds a connection to something bigger than just them.

Helping children face their failures and accept the consequences of their behavior teaches them to find courage within themselves and to confront realities, no matter how challenging. It helps them learn to be accountable for their behavior, learn self control and that success involves hard work over the long haul. Some of the qualities they will need to be successful in the adult world. One of the best lessons we can teach our children is to be accountable for their choices.

Teaching children to wait in a world where everything is almost immediate will continue to be a challenge.  That is why it is extra important that they learn the lesson of no and having to wait.  As parents in what can be a very stressful world we can say yes out of guilt.  Our intentions are good however the lifelong lesson hinders children in the adult world where the process of looking for a job is many more no responses than job offers.  Having to work for something they earn teaches children a valuable lesson.

As a parent, nothing is more difficult than watching your child struggle; however, we would rather watch them struggle as children then as adults.  Being a parent is an awesome responsibility and we need to instill in our children self-reliance and the confidence they need to make choices that will make the journey of life a little easier and a little less painful.  I believe that parents do the best they can however I also believe that we can all strive to do a better job.

About the Author

Dianne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Novell and Novell Counseling.  To schedule an appointment with Dianne, please call (951) 252-9911.