I recently read a quote from acclaimed clinical psychologist, Madeline Levine, in the NY Times. Her quote had to do with how to raise children who are helpful and self-aware of their impact upon others and constructive (even inventive) in their role as a member of their family.
For us, as a couple with 6 six adopted children, it was both enlightening and heartening to hear.
Basically, her statement had to do with parents (particularly those in the USA) believing in an overly inflated influence on their kids. That hit home. Basically then, that less can be more. For example – studies of families in other cultures have noted that very young children (ages four and under!) can adopt positive and constructive behaviors within the family without prompting, coaxing or bribing – simply because their parents have adopted a loving yet objective perspective of their child – while expecting them to make constructive choices, while not coddling or “helicopter parenting”.
Every parent wants successful children, but until parents are clear about core values, and choices. which are most likely to lead to a child’s long-term and authentic success, parents will be raising exhausted, externally driven, in fact impaired children who believe that they are “only as good as their last performance.” To paraphrase Levine, true success is always internal, and is measured not by today’s report card but by the people our children become – ten or fifteen years from now.
Refusing to be diverted by popular issues such as “tiger moms versus coddling moms,” Levine confronts then true core issues behind the way we push our kids to the breaking point while dismissing the talents and interests of many others. She shows us how to shift our focus from the excesses of hyper-parenting and our unhealthy reliance on our children for status and meaning to a parenting style that focuses on protective factors known to contribute to both academic success as well as a sense of purpose, well-being, connection, and meaning in life.
Her new book “TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL” focuses on choice—how we view success, raise our children, and expend our energies and resources. It is also about the courage to make the changes we believe in. The time has come, says Levine, to return our overwrought families to a healthier and saner version of themselves.
Here are some ideas for your young children: backyard playground equipment.