Raising a Capable Child

By Jennifer Taylor

One of the great dilemmas about raising a well-rounded child is the mixed messages we often receive about what makes an effective parent.  There are those that tell you that you need to bond with your child, touch being important, and that it begins in early infancy.  Others say that the best thing parents can do is to give children space to allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.  Hold them too close and you diminish their ability to act on their own.

At first glance H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson may seem to be giving the same type of advice, one-sided and simplistic, in Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World.  However, both Glenn and Nelson seem to understand the need for both attention and contact while also maintaining the importance of self-exploration and natural consequences.  What is apparent and what most books seem to miss is the fact that parenting is an art that takes the proper amount of oversight and attention without overdoing it.  It is so easy for us as parents to steer too far in one direction or the other.

The book, as one can decipher from the title, is about teaching children to be more independent, self-aware, and capable in a world where so much is automatically handed to them.  This is a tall order to achieve in a society that glorifies indulgence and irresponsibility, at least in the popular media.

The authors begin the book with an overview of how children have gotten to be this way, and how the “old days” were better in many respects.  While there are certainly areas of the past that were perhaps beneficial to children, it may appear as an oversimplification to state that the past was somehow better.  The authors trace the movement from rural to urban as a prime example of why children no longer have the needed tools to become self-reliant.  The breakdown of the family unit and the influx of outside distractions are certainly cause for concern in our society.  However, in this respect the authors may have been doing what they advocate against in their book, making assumptions based on their perceptions.

Where the book makes up for this is through the rest of the content which is really the substance that parents and teachers ought to focus on.  Mind you, this book isn’t just for parents, and while it is directed at helping children it can also be applied to other relationships as well.  The authors present psychology and child development in an easy to follow manner that provides clear examples of ways parents can aid their children in developing a range of positive traits including self-reliance.

One of the key points made by the authors is that perception is an important component in helping children develop into capable adults.  How we perceive events in our life may not be how they actually occurred, but it is these perceptions that take root and shape future behavior.  Glenn and Nelson do a thorough job of going over different areas that parents and teachers can work on in order to facilitate skill development as well as building healthier perceptions.  Overall, the methods and information given calls on parents to encourage, listen, and spend time with children in order to build meaningful interactions with them.  These interactions need to be based on a positive foundation.  However, it doesn’t mean you hand the child everything just because you can.  As the authors say in the book, “Effective parents do not use their means (large or small) to provide too much, too soon for their children.”

While this is only a small overview of the book, it is a worthwhile read for educators, parents, and adults in general.  While the book is over a decade old, the information given is solid and helpful.  Parents and educators will find it a beneficial resource in helping children gain self-reliance and self-confidence.

Jennifer Taylor is a freelance writer living and working in South Carolina. Happily married, she and her husband have one son. Jennifer believes that each child is a unique individual, and that parents should be able to decide on how to raise their children. She seeks to empower parents to seek out answers and find solutions. You can contact Jennifer at admin@jentaylor.org. Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply