‘We’ll fix it’ parents do their children no favours

Raising a resilient child: future happiness lies in learning to cope with adversity, says Sheila Wayman

 Jolanta Burke, positive psychologist and PhD researcher at Trinity College Dublin, says that the kind of feedback you give a child is crucial.Photograph: Eric Luke

Jolanta Burke, positive psychologist and PhD researcher at Trinity College Dublin, says that the kind of feedback you give a child is crucial.Photograph: Eric Luke

We all want our children to be happy and the temptation, in this era of “over-parenting”, is to rush in to try to fix their problems. A child down the road was mean? Let’s ring her mother. The teacher was giving out? We’ll complain to the principal. Dropped from the A team? We’ll have words with that “stupid” coach.

Too often we’re overprotective, we overintervene and we can also be overgenerous with material things, for fear of disappointing a child. In misguided attempts to remove all causes of unpleasantness, we’re not recognising that children have to learn to cope with unhappiness in order to be happy.

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