This past week, Congregation Shaarei Tefillah ran a workshop with the famed Dr. Hoffnung, a psychologist from New York, on the topic of parenting, and many useful techniques were discussed. Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld is another parent educator to whom several of our parents and teachers have turned for parenting ideas and suggestions. In a generation where many children are looking for instant gratification and having everything laid out on a silver platter, she discusses the topic of “Raising confident and self-sufficient children.” I recall a mother in one school arguing with a middle-school English teacher that there was no way her child’s paper deserved a “B.” She finally admitted that it could not deserve a “B” because she had written it. Mrs. Schonfeld writes: “If we constantly rescue our children, they will never learn for themselves.” Enjoy this article!
Raising Confident & Self-Sufficient Children
Q: How can I raise confident and most importantly self-sufficient children?
A: Drs. Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg, in Teaching Kids to Think: Raising Confident, Independent, and Thoughtful Children in an Age of Instant Gratification, describe four parent traps that are situations “in which parents are drawn to solve problems for their children or rescue them in a way that ultimately stifles growth opportunities.” I’ve outlined three of the five parent traps here:
The Rescue Trap. Parents often feel the need to “save” their children when their children are hurt, frustrated, or angry. If we constantly rescue our children, they never learn to help themselves.
The solution: Take a backseat. Let your child struggle. Ultimately, he will be stronger and know how to succeed the next time. If he really tries and really fails, then you can save him.
The Hurried Trap. Today’s children are used to instant gratification, as they live in a fast-paced society with access to information and entertainment at all times. Parents who fall into the “hurried trap” respond immediately to their children’s requests and desires.
The solution: Pause. Take a step back. Allow your child to wait for things he wants. When it comes to his needs, of course, provide them, but don’t constantly jump at his beck and call. He’ll learn patience and gratitude.
The Pressure Trap. Many children are engaged in so many different activities because their friends are on the competitive sports team or the math club. They are overscheduled and have little or no unstructured time. This can lead to the common complaint of boredom, as children will never gain the ability to entertain themselves.
The solution: Schedule free time. Let your children learn to entertain themselves. At first, this will be difficult, and they will complain of boredom, but eventually they will gain powerful problem-solving and imaginative skills.
The Bottom Line
Today’s research indicates that confidence is the key factor to raising successful kids. As parents, we might unknowingly fall into “traps” that prevent our children from gaining confidence. Learn about those traps and the ways to avoid them.
I am hopeful that my recent articles and all of the teacher and parent education that we are involved in as a community will provide us with many techniques and strategies to raise our children as healthy and self-confident individuals.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman