I never thought that title was something I would have to write—nevermind something I would actually have to question. But with different articles coming out against what one author refers to as “shake it off” parenting (read here) in which parents dismiss their children’s losses, pain, and embarrassments, I think we have entered a time where the balance between teaching our children to be independent and coddling them is becoming more difficult to find.
The main complaint people have about millennials is that they are entitled from too many years of their parents coddling them. Whether or not this is true, I can see how that would happen. Children do need to learn to work, to pick themselves up when they’ve been taken down, and to eventually be independent from their parents.
In the article linked above, the writer uses the example of dangerous “shake it off” parenting as when a child gets hurt on the soccer field, and instead of being allowed to come be reassured by his mother, he’s yelled at to get back out there—to “shake it off.” While I agree that a hurt six-year-old shouldn’t have to endure the embarrassment of believing his pain doesn’t matter, what if the child was repeatedly allowed to step off the field for reassurance each time he got a scrape on the knee? This could eventually lead to a destructive pattern that stops him from learning how to care and reassure himself as he grows older.
The problem with all of this is, as far as I can see it, that to be the most effective parents we can be we need to employ pieces of both empathetic and “shake it off” parenting styles.
Where I think the writer hits her best point is when she states, “‘Shake it off’ parenting seems to be gaining steam as parents try every trick in the book to avoid being labeled the dreaded ‘helicopter parent.’ No one wants to be depicted as the neurotic hovering parent who refuses to let the child fail, so they pull a razor sharp U-turn and throw empathy to the wind, even when their kids need it.”
The trick we parents need to learn is the difference between our kids needing our reassurance and encouragement, versus giving it every single time something less than rosy happens to them.
So how much is too much encouragement? I don’t think there needs to be a limit. What we can do instead of coldly yelling at them to “shake it off,” is gently remind our kids how capable they are of picking themselves back up.
What are your thoughts on “shake it off” parenting? Let me know in the comments below!