Go for it! How to raise mentally strong kids

Parents encourage their kids to eat healthy and exercise to stay physically strong, but what about their mental strength?

Kids learn new facts and information every day, but many are never taught how to develop mental strength. That’s the social and emotional skills they need to become a responsible adult.

Experts say parents can foster mental strength and resilience in their kids by avoiding certain habits.

The first: don’t minimize kids’ feelings. They need to know expressing emotions is OK. Steer clear of phrases like “Don’t worry about it” and “It’s not a big deal.” Instead, try: “I know you’re scared right now, but I also know you’re strong.”

Also, don’t save them from failure.

“If a child does poorly in school, the parent might go in and talk to the teacher and learn what is wrong,” said Dr. Kristin Anderson Moore, a social psychologist. “If it turns out to be reading, the parent might take the child to the library and take out books and work on reading.”

Lastly, don’t overindulge kids with stuff. Research shows if kids get everything they want, they miss out on skills like self-discipline and they’re more likely to grow up being materialistic, which is associated with decreased levels of happiness in adulthood.

One more mistake parents make is expecting perfection. While you want your child to aim for big goals, setting the bar too high can lead to self-esteem issues. Make sure your expectations are realistic and use failures and setbacks to teach life lessons.