Flying Solo: Raise an Independent Kid

1. We can't make our children happy.

girl climbing tree

Henrik Sorensen/Cultura/Corbis

We are biologically programmed to empathize with our children. When they cry, we run to see if they are in danger; when they look sad, we wrap our arms around them. We want to protect our kids from all bad feelings, but struggle and suffering are part of life and children need to learn to manage their own emotions. As a child, you don't know exactly what you feel when you're with your parents because you interpret your experiences through their reactions. Away from home, it's easier for children to learn what they hate and what they love, what makes them miserable and what makes them happy, because they are having experiences on their own.

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