Taking Charge

Taking Charge

The successful education and guidance of children requires an effective strategy. A successful strategy can be broken into three components; goals, motivation, and techniques.

First, we must set our goals.  In order to make our educational goals more real and powerful it is useful to consider them in as much detail as possible. For example, if we want our daughter to be an adult with exemplary character traits it is helpful to consider what it will look like each step of the way as she is growing-up. We may decide that at four she should say "please and thank you," at six she should be generous in sharing her toys and at eight she should call her friends on the phone when they are sick and wish them a "speedy recovery."

When deciding on goals for our children, it is essential that we take into consideration both the child and other family members. Goals must be fair, respectful and just. If we want our son to be a scholar, it cannot be at the expense of denying him his need to play and relax. Likewise, it is not just to concentrate on one child at the expense of the others.

In 1953, scientists wanted to study the impact of goal setting. They interviewed the graduating class of Harvard University. They discovered that less than 3% had clear-cut goals set for themselves. Twenty years later these researchers interviewed these same people. What they found was that the same 3% that had definite goals in 1953 appeared, in 1973, better adjusted emotionally, socially, and with their families. In addition, this 3% had more financial clout than the combined net worth of the rest of their classmates. The value of goal setting is obvious.

Once we know what our goals are, it is necessary to implement them. This requires "motivation." The way to increase one's motivation, passion, and dedication is by understanding why particular goals are important. This is important for both parents and children. 

Consistently considering and evaluating our goals and how to implement them will help us successfully accomplish our education plans.

The actual "techniques," the "how to" of implementing our goals varies greatly from child to child and family to family. The media proliferates an abundance of parenting tips and "how to's." Serious parents can become overly cautious and confused by the many points of view and are thereby unable to assume the necessary responsibility for effective parenting. However, there are no cook-book type rules or pat answers. What is essential is that parents take charge of their household – that they be the captains of their ship. Otherwise the children themselves may fill the void and the results will be disastrous. They may grow up arrogant and without values, and thereby preclude the acquisition of good academic and character traits. Certainly, the educational goals set out by the parents will never be achieved.  When parents set the tone and structure of family life, children will respond with humility and respect as well as love and closeness. Taking charge is more critical than whether parents are pedagogically 100% or only 96% correct.

Whatever your plan, it is important that you "sell" the idea to your children. They don't have to agree on the final destination, but they have to enjoy getting there. Encourage them and positively acknowledge their accomplishments with rewards and praise.  This is the best way.

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