I know I have written quite a bit lately about parenting. I guess it is what’s on my mind so it’s what you get to hear about. I hope you don’t mind a couple more posts on the topic.
Today I read an article on the blog Growing Leaders – Tim Elmore on leading the next generation. I have never seen this blog before and I don’t know what else Tim writes about but this post really hit a few buttons for me. He writes about Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids – And How to Correct Them. You can find the article here: http://growingleaders.com/blog/3-mistakes-we-make-leading-kids/. I hope you will take I time to read it and reflect on what he says. I also thought I would share my reactions.
Allow children to take risks
I totally agree with this. While it is often the hardest thing a parent endures, I believe we need to allow those small hurts – both physical and emotional. Imagine how proud a young child feels when she manages an uneven path with areas requiring balance all by herself. If she never gets the chance to try, she will never know how good it feels to succeed. She may be less likely to try new things another day. I have an old video I took of my granddaughter (on my phone so it’s not great quality.) I love how my daughter, Allie, allows her little one to try climbing into the high chair all by herself. Here’s a link to that video. http://www.aldersgatepreschool.com/video/blogvideo1.mp4
Yes, the other day she slipped and bumped her lip as she climbed. While I quickly scooped her up to comfort her, I think that moment of hurt is minor compared to the huge value of her “can do attitude” developed from all the other times she was able to accomplish it by herself.
Let your child struggle
Many of our parents are proud the have children that are now “zipper stars.” A little paper star is a prize to any three or four-year old that learns to zip his or her own coat. I love the moment when a child works, and works until finally he can zip it himself. I absolutely love to see a child beaming with accomplishment. Sometimes though it is hard to NOT help. It is hard to watch as your child can’t quite get the puzzle piece into place. It is hard to see your child in a disagreement with a friend. We want our kids to have life easier than we did. However, it is those little struggles that build perseverance. A disagreement gives children a chance to practice assertiveness skills. I am reminded of an article I read about the struggle of a butterfly as it leaves the chrysalis. If someone “helps” the butterfly by breaking away the skin of the chrysalis it actually dooms the butterfly as it’s wings are not strong enough to fly.
Praise the effort
Just this week, a teacher and I were talking about the need to praise what the child is doing (the effort) – not the child. Yes, our children need to know we love them and treasure them beyond words. We tell them that when we spend time with them, care for them, feed them, play with them . . . and finally when we tuck them in with loving words. With that said, we have plenty of other opportunities to focus on what they are doing. “Wow, you are building a tall tower.” “You are working hard to write your name.” “I see you are making a drawbridge for your castle. Here are some supplies. I am sure you can do it but I am here if you get stuck. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.” Okay, I’ll admit those words don’t roll off the tongue. We are not used to this kind of praise but with practice we can do it. As Tim Elmore says in his article, focusing on what children can control (their actions) will encourage them to continue working hard even if at times they fail.
I hope you have read Tim’s article. While some of the examples he gives may seem extreme, I believe we can all take something away from the ideas he presents and approach parenting with a little different focus.