Building Resilience in Children: Unlocking the Path to Wisdom

Building Resilience in Children: Unlocking the Path to Wisdom

Phil, a recent business school graduate, got his dream job. He did so well that he was invited to a retreat with the big shots of the company. Not only did he get to attend, but he also had a chance to meet the CEO of the company. 

Almost jittery, he approached her and asked, “I was told that I could ask you a question.  What does it take to become as successful as you are?” 

“Success in business, and in life, comes from a whole series of good decisions,” she said.

“Oh, I’m sure that’s true,” he said, “but what does it take to make those good decisions?” 

 “Well, that’s the hard part. It takes wisdom,” she replied.

Still not feeling that he completely understood, he said, “I’m sure it does. But that creates a burning question for me. How did you acquire such wisdom?” 

She paused briefly and then explained, “Bad decisions. A whole lot of bad decisions. Wisdom comes by learning from your mistakes.” 

In 1977, I coined the phrase Helicopter Parents and started writing about this parenting style. These parents carry the heavy burden of swooping in to rescue their kids from any mistake, disappointment, or struggle. Out of love, they cripple their children by stealing their opportunities to gain wisdom and resilience—they prevent them from learning from their mistakes. 

Still today there are many Helicopter Parents.  In some ways, it seems even worse than before.  The problem seems to have reached epidemic proportions, with parents trying to create a perfect life for their kids. Little do they know that their children won’t be able to maintain that great life if they have not prepared for it by having to deal with their own little problems early in life. 

The authors of Love and Logic meet many parents who are afraid for their kids to make those poor decisions needed to gain wisdom. I hope you are not one of those parents. But if you are, this gentle reminder comes from my heart. Bruised knees and bruised emotions are the building blocks of wisdom and personal strength. Don’t steal that from the kids you love so much. 

Listen to my most popular audio, Helicopters, Drill Sergeants, and Consultants, for some laughs and solutions to this tempting and common parenting style—and help your kids gain wisdom and resilience by learning from their mistakes.


Thanks for reading!

Jim Fay


Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants

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