Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are You Raising Doers, or Followers?

The duty of all parents is to raise a self-sufficient being that can function on their own.  It’s been said that a parent’s curse is that the job basically entails you pouring all this love and attention into a little person just so they can ultimately leave you and take that love elsewhere.  Yet especially in recent years, the trend towards coddling and overprotecting children has been growing, with parents becoming especially clingy rather than working to foster independence.

As Barbara Littman states in her book Everyday Ways to Raise Smart, Strong, Confident Girls, “in school and often at home, a big part of growing up is spent going along with what is happening rather than making things happen.”  The result is that children have very little experience in decision making.  When it comes to taking the initiative on their own, many kids don’t know what to do.

Thus parents should try to find more ways to get children out of the passive-submissive role and more involved in the “making things happen” role.  There are several easy ways to do this:

A)    When a problem presents itself, get in the habit of asking children what they think they should do as opposed to telling them what to do.  You can still guide them towards the correct answer, but this gets them accustomed to talking the lead and coming up with solutions on their own.

B)     Try to involve kids in planning family functions whenever possible.  Give them the job of researching potential vacation spots on weekend getaways.  Or let them pick on meal a week that they might enjoy and them involve them in the process of planning what needs to happened to prepare it – items to be purchased, preparations, and so on.

C)    Make a conscientious effort to follow their lead more often.  Kids are very imaginative and come up with some crazy ideas.  When is the last time you helped them develop one of these plans, even if it’s rather childish or silly?  Do so once, and I guarantee you that you’ll have a child who starts actively imagining all sorts of ways they might be able to change the world.

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