I found some terrific advice in our local paper last week. Dr. Wendy Mogel was interviewed about raising self-reliant children. In this culture of entitlement (I should have it all because I can!) I was immediately intrigued.
Her advice can be found in two books: the first is for those interested in young kids, basically before the teen years.
The second is for those who live with teens. She writes in the first chapter of the teen book that she assumed the advice she wrote in The Blessing of the Skinned Knee would safely guide her daughters through adolescence. If you live with teenagers, it does not surprise you that she discovered her pleasant and willing girls suddenly became rude, self-centered teens who tested their boundaries with drama.
Here’s her advice that makes sense to me, no matter at what age:
- Let them be cold, wet, or hungry for more than a second. They’ll appreciate the chance to be warm, dry, and fed.
- Self-reliance brings self-confidence. If you can solve a problem, complete a difficult task, or struggle, then you have a reason to feel self-confident.
- Appreciate persistence and hard work.
If you practice only one of these, this is the most important:
- Praise the process, not the product.
Rather than saying, “Your project is terrific!”
say “I noticed you took extra time and care to make your project work (look, etc.) exactly right. That’s how (engineers/artists/writers, etc.) work to do their very best.”
As a teacher I learned that I had to be extra aware of my words when praising students. It’s so easy to just say “Great job” or something similar. If you start the sentence with an “I” statement and then describe what you saw or heard the child do, you can develop this habit of Praising the Process, not the Product.
I am thankful for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren and for parents who continue the struggle of raising self-reliant children.
God bless you all.