March 2016 Archives

Leonard Sax, a parent, physician, and psychologist from Pennsylvania, has written his fourth book - The Collapse of Parenting  - to sound the alarm that many of us have been hearing for some time now. How, indeed, did children start to rule our lives, speaking to us with disrespect and flaunting our rules to pursue their own immediate desires?


With the advent of cell phones, video games, increased childhood obesity, and an "entitled generation" that we coddle with too much praise and too few reality checks, our lives have been literally turned topsy turvy. Instead of  parents being the reigning figures of love and authority in the home - see Wendy Mogel's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee for more on this - we are servants to the young. How often do you cringe in public when your child speaks to you like this: "Just shut up, Dad, you don't know anything - if you don't let me finish this game (OR have this sleepover OR go to this party) I will make dinner miserable for everyone!"


What can we do? Here are some simple tips for getting things back in line:

·        Be firm about family rules. Post them on the refrigerator. Have family meetings to discuss the rules and accept suggested amendments. Have a family motto and decide as a group to live up to it.  

·        Teach humility - instead of over-inflated praise, give feedback that is positive yet realistic. Effective praise is true, specific, and helpful. Instead of "that's the best painting I have ever seen!" say "I really like the way you chose that color blue for the sky when it is next to the green of the trees."

·        Let your child experience the pains of growing up. Do not micromanage every social situation that is difficult for them. Use this simple formula (from Fay and Cline's Parenting with Love and Logic): a) respond with empathy; b) pause; c) ask "what are you going to do about it?; d) pause; e) say "You are a bright and comptent kid and I love you. I am sure you will come up with a good solution. Let me know how it turns out."; f) walk away!

·        Have family dinners - the family matters, and family dinners are a way to show that family matters. Insist on no electronics at the dinner table for everyone (you too, Mom and Dad!) and have some simple exercise to share (name one good thing about your day OR name one thing you are thankful for  OR give one piece of positive feedback to the person on your left).

·        Spend time with your child with no other agendas - go for a walk (once again with no electronics), play an old fashioned board game, go out for hot chocolate. Even if you watch a movie together discuss the plot, name your favorite parts or best characters, and ask what would be done better and differently if you were in charge.  

·        Teach the meaning of life - it's not all about achievement but instead above love, commitment, and service to others. Make sure your family values service as part of giving back to the world. Most of us already have more than sufficient conditions for our happiness.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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