Strategies you can use to balance and differentiate when to protect and when to empower your children

Do you have a strong need to protect your child? Is it difficult for you to let them feel the discomfort of a challenging situation?

Our children need to feel the discomfort and learn how to work through challenges in order to build their confidence, we just need to learn to know when to step in and when to allow the growth

It is difficult for us!

Here are some strategies you can use to balance and differentiate when to protect and when to empower your children

  1. Get clear in your process and stay consistent with the process 

We need to make sure our actions are in line with our long-term outcome of building confidence rather than ease in the moment

  • To know when to intervene and when not to 
  • Have a strategy on what to say to them as they go through the process

The Process

Step 1 Acknowledge

When our children come to us with a challenge our first response must always be to acknowledge how they feel. Don’t explain it away

  • I can see this is really hard for you
  •  Yes I know that….(then repeat the situation) and we are going to find a way

Step 2 Ask questions

  • What is happening?
  • What can you try?
  • What do you think will happen?

As they give you answers, use those answers to ask the next question so that you lead them to a solution to try.

The timing of asking questions is important. Never go into problem solving or questions when they are in an emotional state. Stay in acknowledgement phase, you can have the problem-solving conversation later when they are feeling resourceful

Step 3 Validate their effort and remind them that they are okay regardless of the result

I know this is hard, but taking small steps each time is enough

  • It is important to try something and see the result – then we know for next time
  • You are awesome and brave to be trying and that is all that is important, you will find a way
  • It just takes practice until you work it out
  • Let’s see what happens next time

Step 4 Help them assess without judgement or needing a good result 

Be curious, validate if they don’t feel happy with the result. Don’t be tempted to give advice. The goal here is to reassure them so they feel okay that they tried and to come to a feeling of what they will try next

It is not about never giving advice it is about focusing on them coming up with a solution. We can pre-empt things as long as we are not trying to solve it for them

Keep consistent with this process until they find a way. Often, we try thisand then give up on them when it doesn’t come right soon. We need to be keep tweaking our process of questioning and them trying until they get success. When they start to have small successes, it will motivate them to keep trying and that is what builds their confidence


  1. Know when to intervene and when not to 


Always start from the perspective that they can find a solution to their own problem. Always start from the perspective that you believe they are capable. Follow the process above of getting them to try different options to get a result

Have conversations with them about how they feel in the process. The goal is for them to feel powerful in themselves whether they getting it right or not. As you go through the process and assess with them, assess for yourself too.

What is actually happening? Assess whether there are other factors involved that impact the situation. 

  • Is there something happening at school that the school needs to be aware of?
  • Assess whether you feel it is your child’s confidence that needs building or is it that the situation or other children won’t change?

This can be a trial-and-error process. If you choose to intervene, try separate your actions from the confidence building process with your child. I.E. Don’t take their responsibility away, don’t rescue them. Tell them that you will approach the school AND it is their responsibility to keep trying new ways, so you are working together. If we solve it for them, they can develop the belief that they cant do it or that they don’t have to. They need to assume the responsibility anyway. You are just handling the part that is out of their control.

  1. Assess the progress and keep tweaking the process to ensure their growth.

Without checking in and measuring consistently, we can’t see progress. It is not about them getting it right, it is about seeing the small evidences of progress (are they taking steps, are they assessing their steps, are they learning)

Sometimes when things go well, we don’t talk about it. We think it is solved. It is very important to talk about it anyway. If it went well this is the perfect time to validate them so they can feel they have done well.

Sometimes when things don’t go well, we are tempted not to talk about it. We don’t want to bring up the discomfort. We need to talk about it anyway. Start with reassuring them, teach them to talk about the difficult stuff and they are awesome anyway. 

The assessing process is the most important step, it ground the whole process.

In closing

Use these tips and others I provide in my blogs.  I am here to support you through your entire parent journey

What You Should Do Next:

  1. Follow me on Instagram where I share loads of quick tips and ideas to implement with your children AND YOURSELF
  2. If you have enjoyed this blog please share with a friend who you think would benefit from these tips 
  3. Look out for my series of new FREE Webinars and an online course giving strategies for yourself as a parent. Handling your own feelings – guilt, worry, the need to protect, frustration…and more


About the Author

Gail is a Family Relationship Coach specialising in Parent-Child Relationships. She is passionate about empowering and inspiring parents to develop children’s self-awareness. She believes that this can be achieved by balancing parent’s needs with children’s development and happiness. Understanding how to synchronise our thoughts and emotions and what drives them ensures our happiness, and our children reaching their full potential. Gail is a Qualified NLP Practitioner, NLP Life Coach and Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner with over 10 years’ experience and success at applying these techniques to children’s learning and behaviour. Her success with her own son is proof of the possibility of true potential

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