Raising Responsible And Enterprising Children

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Children who always get what they ask for may have trouble coping as adults when life denies them something they so badly want.

Give them surprise treats, but children must also learn to earn things they enjoy. Expect them to discharge their responsibilities in order to enjoy some of the discretionary privileges. Children must learn to deal with limits, disappointments and an occasional "No." It's part of living and learning. Universe doesn't spare anyone.

Praise children more for hard work and less for rewards, recognitions and trophies. Praise for the hard work rather than the outcome will help them to sustain a high level of effort for a long time, even when rewards are not forthcoming.

Teach them early on that mistakes and failures are opportunities for learning and necessary for success and therefore not reason for resentment.

Help them to succeed in something. Offer them opportunities and delegate tasks according to their age and level of ability. Help them develop skills, which can become their "safe havens" of competence.

In order to realize balanced growth, competence both in academics and sports is ideal. For academic competence, development of interest and skill in reading a highly important key skill. Balance it with deelopment of a physical skill in some sports. Too many children are spending too many hours sharpening video game skills, which contribute little to the development of physical intelligence.

Replace the concept of "chores" with "responsibilities." The word "chores" evokes imageries of boredom and drudgery. My friend's 10-year old son has taught me that what we adults call "chore" doesn't have to be a chore; performing it can be a source of pride and accomplishment.

My friend assigns an age appropriate responsibility and explains and demonstrates exactly what needs to be done in order to perform the required task. He then asks his son if he could TRUST him with the responsibility as the son can trust him for performing his responsibilities as a father. Make sure, however, that your child is old enough and competent to be delegated such a responsibility.

When children feel they have assisted their parents in completing something, doing a good deed or helping others in some way, they can feel proud and confident of themselves.

Young children by nature are self-centered. Our task as parents and educators is to also help them become "other-centered." It is not a virtue, it is a necessity and common sense dictates it. We live in an interdependent society. Survival and prosperity result from our efforts to help others and win their cooperation, goodwill and trust.

Franklin Roosevelt once said the only way to have a friend is to be one! If you want to become an interesting person, it's simple. "Get interested in others" as someone once said.

One mother cured her child of shyness by constantly reminding him, "You are again thinking about yourself. Don't think about yourself." She was no psychologist, but had an uncanny insight. Shyness, on one level, is nothing but self-centeredness.

Teach children to be empathic. Let them learn that others too are just like them; they feel the pain and happiness in exactly the same way as you do.

If your child pushes and makes the other child fall, instead of saying, "Don't you ever do that again," make the child think about t he behavior. You might say, "If someone pushed you and you fell down, how would that make you feel?" Consistent linking of children's own feelings with that of others can help them see that they do have a connection with others.

Teach children self-reliance. For example, when children complain about boredom and not having anything to do, don't always hand out something or take it upon yourself to entertain them for the rest of the day. Don't punish them for pestering you. Instead, ask them to come up with something they can do. Make sure that you have games, toys, crayons or other materials available for them to play with.

In the beginning, you might have to think out loud with them until you have them used to the idea that being creative and innovative and coming up with something to do is their responsibility. Don't allow them to mope or commit aggression because there is "nothing to do." When they complain that they don't have all the nice things their friends have, ask them to make something of their own and make you proud of them.

Children have to be trained to deal with frustrations and adversity because few people can go through life without experiencing them. Frustration tolerance training must be imparted with a sense of humor, empathy and praise.

It's important to teach them that bad times are temporary. By dealing with challenges and frustrations, they can become stronger.

Return to Parenting Tips
Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2004, Mind Publications 
Posted September 2004


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor