I recently read a fantastic blog post by Tim Elmore titled, Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids…and How to Correct Them. It’s been tweeted more than 5400 times and has over 600 comments. I’d say Elmore has hit a nerve!
I think his post is right on. If you have children in the home, I encourage you to read it. He makes these three arguments (I’ve included a short excerpt for each point):
1. We Risk Too Little
“The truth is, kids need to fall a few times to learn it is normal; teens likely need to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend to appreciate the emotional maturity that lasting relationships require. Pain is actually a necessary teacher.”
2. We Rescue Too Quickly
“Staff from four universities recently told me they encountered students who had never filled out a form or an application in their life. Desiring to care for their kids, and not disadvantage them, parents or teachers had always done it for them.”
3. We Rave Too Easily
“When we rave too easily, kids eventually learn to cheat, to exaggerate and lie and to avoid difficult reality. They have not been conditioned to face it.”
Regarding risking, I remember last year about this time, Ethan (2nd grade) was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in our neighborhood. God protected him that day and he walked out of the hospital that same night with only bruises. My natural feeling was to take a break from the bicycle. But James knew he needed to get back on the bike as soon as possible to regain his confidence. Risk is a part of life. To continuously avoid risk is to live crippled.
Regarding rescuing, there was a day when Noelle (1st grade) forgot her homework on the kitchen table. I was frustrated that she had left it behind. How many times had I told her to check her backpack before going to school? I could have driven 5 minutes and dropped off her homework. But I wanted her to learn from the consequences of forgetting her homework. Although forgetting her homework didn’t hit her too hard (she is more free spirited and easy going), she hasn’t forgotten it since.
Regarding raving, we constantly look for praiseworthy things to comment on. When Lucy (age 3) was disappointed because we cancelled a Disneyland trip due to sickness in the family, she didn’t cry or throw a fit. We told her we would schedule another time to go and she was fine. THAT was something specific to praise her about!
Many times as parents, we think we are doing the right and best thing for our children by protecting, rescuing and raving. It’s natural to protect our children and to want them to feel happy. But more important than happiness is emotional maturity and achieving that involves some disappointment, hurt, and boredom along the way. Of course provide an atmosphere of love and acceptance for your children but don’t shield them from the realities of life which serve as wonderful teachers.