My wife and I are parents of a one-year-old girl and are expecting another child. We want our children to learn how to be courageous and self-reliant. We don’t want to be “helicopter parents”…those who hover over their children and constantly try to smooth the way for them. When our children grow up, we don’t want to be calling their bosses on their behalf. We want our children to learn to deal with their own problems at school and later at work. Recently I heard the term “antifragile parenting.” Could you tell us about this antifragile style?



Antifragile parenting is a style that strives to allow kids to learn from mistakes and be bold. It means less “cushioning the blow” for your kids. It means taking a step back and letting kids do things for themselves. For example, if a toddler tries to climb up on a chair, an antifragile approach might be to watch and be ready to help but not immediately intervene out of fear.


Here are some suggestions to help you carry out the antifragile parenting style.

  1. If a child falls, don’t rush in with alarm. Calmly ask if your child is hurt. This allows the child to use her own words and thoughts and to gauge her own feelings rather than taking on the parent’s worries.
  2. When you see a child struggling, don’t offer your solution. Ask the child if she sees a solution.
  3. When your child is old enough, let her hear you problem-solve out loud. If your child is in sports, resist the urge to cushion disappointments in her performance. Encourage your child to have a positive attitude and be a team player.
  4. When children fight with friends, don’t fix it. You can ask your child how she is going to work it out or just let her work it out.

Good luck to you as you engage in antifragile parenting to help your children develop self-reliance, social skills and the ability to cope on their own.


Betty Richardson, PhD, RN, CS, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist.


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