Children and a Strong Sense of Self

If you are over 30, you can probably remember your mom saying something like this..."If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you do it too"? This usually followed an attempt to talk mom into saying 'yes' because you said 'but all the other kids are doing it'.

All parents want their children to learn how to make good choices, how to stand in the face of disagreement, how to say no to things they know are wrong. But, how do we do that?

I recently spent several days with my 3 grandchildren. They really like each other and have a good time together. They are 11, 9 and 6 years of age. The older kids watch TV shows that the 6 year old doesn't. One morning as they sat watching, the dad of the older ones said the show was inappropriate and they needed to watch something else. They changed the channel with no problem. The 6 year old thought he heard dad say they needed to turn the TV off. Even though the older kids assured him they were doing what they were told, the little guy wen to his uncle for reassurance. I found that to be very mature of him not to just believe his cousin but to check it out for himself.

Later, he came into the other room and said he decided not to watch what the other cousins were watching because it was too scary. I assured him that it was fine if he didn't want to watch and he could do something else. He turned with a sigh and said "Whew, I feel so much better".

>I think it is remarkable that he took such good care of himself. He could have continued to watch the show thinking they weren't supposed to. And, he could have tried to watch the other one even though he was scared because he wanted to be like the older kids. But, he chose to do what he needed to do for himself.

This behavior is not an accident or part of 'just the way he is'. He has been raised using positive discipline and goes to a charter school that uses that parenting approach.

I remember when he was in pre-school and there was a squabble among a couple of kids on the playground. The teacher would not continue on until the dispute was settled. The kids where taught to look inside to understand what happened, how they felt and what they needed to resolve the situation. This training in self-reflection was demonstrated in the two incidents I related above.

It reaffirms for me that we can teach our children how to know what they are feeling, how to deal with them and have an inner sense that they can count on when faced with problems. Now, to watch a TV show or not is not a big deal at six. But, that ability to look inside and choice the better path is a valuable skill and what is needed to be a responsible and competent adult.

If you like the idea of raising responsible, cooperative children take a look at our parenting classes.

Author: Phyllis Grannis