How To Teach Your Children Well

It’s a fine line parents walk as they try to guide their kids into adulthood. You want to protect but not coddle, advise but not control and let them live their own lives—with some input, of course. Peter Gray a research professor of psychology at Boston College, thinks he knows how to strike the perfect balance. Here are a few tips he shared in a recent Psychology Today article, How to Advise and Help Your Kids Without Driving Them (or Yourself) Crazy.

1. When your child asks for help or advice, give only what was asked for.
“If your child asks you to tie a particular hard-to-tie knot for a project she is working on, just tie the knot,” Gray writes.  “Don’t start helping with the rest of the project or making suggestions on how to do it. She wants to do it herself, in her own way. She wants, at the moment, to use you just as a tool, a knot-tying machine, and that’s all you should be.”

2. Before offering unsolicited help or advice, count to ten.
Perhaps in those seconds you’ll decide that the advice would do no good, or isn’t really that important, and you’ll drop it,” advises Gray. “If the advice still seems important, you will give it, but the pause may lead you to give it in a more circumspect way, perhaps as a reasoned suggestion rather than an impulsive command.”

3. Remember that your child is not you and is not a reflection of you.
In Gray’s view, “We make a serious mistake if we try to shape our children into replicas of ourselves, or if we think of them as extensions or reflections of our selves. Any help and advice we give them, if it is to be real help and useful, must take that into account. We need to help them to be them, not try to turn them into us or into something that we think will make us look good.”

4. Micromanage your child’s environment, not your child’s behavior.
“Our primary responsibility to our children is not that of telling them moment-to-moment or day-to-day how to behave. Rather, it is providing them with a healthy environment in which to develop,” Gray argues. “One of the best ways you can help your kids is to work with your community to create safe-enough outdoor places to play in your neighborhood, so they can get away from you and learn to get along with other kids without adult direction.”

Source: Psychology Today

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