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Essay Writing Raising Children

This may seem counterintuitive, but praising children’s talents and abilities seems to rattle their confidence. Tackling more difficult puzzles carries the risk of losing one’s status as “smart” and deprives kids of the thrill of choosing to work simply for its own sake, regardless of outcomes. Dr. Dweck’s work aligns nicely with that of Dr. Baumrind, who also found that reasonably supporting a child’s autonomy and limiting interference results in better academic and emotional outcomes.

Their research confirms what I’ve seen in more than 25 years of clinical work, treating children in Marin County, an affluent suburb of San Francisco. The happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child.

The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality. If you treat your walking toddler as if she can’t walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly “reviews” of homework, repetitive phone calls to “just check if you’re O.K.” and “editing” (read: writing) your child’s college application essay.

Once your child is capable of doing something, congratulate yourself on a job well done and move on. Continued, unnecessary intervention makes your child feel bad about himself (if he’s young) or angry at you (if he’s a teenager).

But isn’t it a parent’s job to help with those things that are just beyond your child’s reach? Why is it overparenting to do for your child what he or she is almost capable of?

Think back to when your toddler learned to walk. She would take a weaving step or two, collapse and immediately look to you for your reaction. You were in thrall to those early attempts and would do everything possible to encourage her to get up again. You certainly didn’t chastise her for failing or utter dire predictions about flipping burgers for the rest of her life if she fell again. You were present, alert and available to guide if necessary. But you didn’t pick her up every time.

You knew she had to get it wrong many times before she could get it right.

HANGING back and allowing children to make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. It’s easier when they’re young — tolerating a stumbling toddler is far different from allowing a preteenager to meet her friends at the mall. The potential mistakes carry greater risks, and part of being a parent is minimizing risk for our children.

What kinds of risks should we tolerate? If there’s a predator loose in the neighborhood, your daughter doesn’t get to go to the mall. But under normal circumstances an 11-year-old girl is quite capable of taking care of herself for a few hours in the company of her friends. She may forget a package, overpay for an item or forget that she was supposed to call home at noon. Mastery of the world is an expanding geography for our kids, for toddlers, it’s the backyard; for preteens, the neighborhood, for teens the wider world. But it is in the small daily risks — the taller slide, the bike ride around the block, the invitation extended to a new classmate — that growth takes place. In this gray area of just beyond the comfortable is where resilience is born.

So if children are able to live with mistakes and even failing, why does it drive us crazy? So many parents have said to me, “I can’t stand to see my child unhappy.” If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you are in the wrong business. The small challenges that start in infancy (the first whimper that doesn’t bring you running) present the opportunity for “successful failures,” that is, failures your child can live with and grow from. To rush in too quickly, to shield them, to deprive them of those challenges is to deprive them of the tools they will need to handle the inevitable, difficult, challenging and sometimes devastating demands of life.

While doing things for your child unnecessarily or prematurely can reduce motivation and increase dependency, it is the inability to maintain parental boundaries that most damages child development. When we do things for our children out of our own needs rather than theirs, it forces them to circumvent the most critical task of childhood: to develop a robust sense of self.

There is an important distinction between good and bad parental involvement. For example, a young child doesn’t want to sit and do his math homework. Good parents insist on compliance, not because they need their child to be a perfect student but because the child needs to learn the fundamentals of math and develop a good work ethic. Compare this with the parent who spends weeks “helping” his or her child fill out college applications with the clear expectation that if they both work hard enough, a “gotta get into” school is a certainty. (While most of my parent patients have graduated from college, it is always a telltale sign of overparenting when they talk about how “we’re applying to Columbia.”)

In both situations parents are using control, in the first case behavioral (sit down, do your math) and in the second psychological (“we’re applying.”) It is psychological control that carries with it a textbook’s worth of damage to a child’s developing identity. If pushing, direction, motivation and reward always come from the outside, the child never has the opportunity to craft an inside. Having tutors prep your anxious 3-year-old for a preschool interview because all your friends’ children are going to this particular school or pushing your exhausted child to take one more advanced-placement course because it will ensure her spot as class valedictorian is not involved parenting but toxic overparenting aimed at meeting the parents’ need for status or affirmation and not the child’s needs.

So how do parents find the courage to discard the malpractice of overparenting? It’s hard to swim upstream, to resist peer pressure. But we must remember that children thrive best in an environment that is reliable, available, consistent and noninterfering.

A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy.

Parents also have to be clear about their own values. Children watch us closely. If you want your children to be able to stand up for their values, you have to do the same. If you believe that a summer spent reading, taking creek walks and playing is better than a specialized camp, then stick to your guns. Parents also have to make sure their own lives are fulfilling. There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.

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There are several ways to raise your child, and there seems to be a clear difference in upbringing children in the dissimilar cultures. This particular topic has been written about in an article from 2011 ‘Why Chinese Mothers are Superior’ by Amy Chua. Amy Chua is a professor at Yale law School in USA, and in the article she writes about how to raise your child. Amy Chua is also writing about the difference between Chinese and Western parents by comparing their methods. The comparison is for us to gain an insight into good and bad consequences when it comes to raise stereotypically successful kids, and at the same time makes the reader consider, if the Western method is the one to prefer. The first thing we read is a list of what Amy Chuas children are not allowed to do, and the things that are totally unacceptable is for examples; sleepovers, school play, watching tv, etc. With the Chinese method it is definitely not the children who decide what talent they want to engage, but it is the parents job. Generally the parents choose school and playing a classic instrument to be the kids priorities. ‘Compared to Western parents Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. Western kids, on the other hand, are more likely to participate in sports teams.’ This could possibly create a cultural and social gap between the Western children and the Chinese children. A point Amy Chua talks about is when children does not succeed. For example if they get a bad grade or fail in their hobbies: ‘Western parents are concerned about their childrens’ psyches. Chinese parents aren’t.’ She is emphasizing that Western parents are way more concerned how their children feels about bad grades and not why they got bad grades. She noticed that the Western parents often are too attentive about their children. Especially when it comes to their children self-esteem: ‘They worry about how their children will feel if they fail at something, and they constantly try to reassure their children about how good they are notwithstanding a mediocre performance on a test or at a recital.’ This means that the parents is worry about their children feeling of not being good enough, and this entails that the parents is afraid of criticizes their kids. The Chinese parents have a whole different view on how they should respond: ‘If a Chinese child gets a B – which would never happen – there would first be a screaming, heir-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozen maybe hundreds of practice tests and work trough them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade op to an A.’ Amy Chua would certainly keep pushing her kids and motivating then, they can achieve their goal, even though the kid does not want to. There is good and bad sides about it. The good thing is that the parents prepare their children. When they grow older, they will have to face the real world, and they have to take responsibility. The bad thing is that the child might lose their own identity, and not having their own opinion, because their parents always have said what they should do. Amy Chua also means that children often want to give up, because things sometimes are hardest in the beginning, but when you eventually gets better, then it also will be funnier. She uses an example where her own daughter refuses to learn a song on the piano, and therefore her daughter cannot get up for water or even go to the bathroom. She has to get it right, which happen late at night and after that she wants to play the piece over and over. Amy Chua uses provocation to draw in the reader, and just by mention the name of the article something degrades the reader’s parenting. With the list the reader will react with a sympathy for the poor little girl, and with a disdain for the evil parent who just destroys their children’s childhood. Throughout the article Amy Chua really managing to keep ones attention with the contrast between the Western upbringing and the Chinese upbringing, which makes a child successful. She wants to engage Western parents to a debate about upbringing. In particular because the recent focus there has been on Asian mothers and their upbringing: ‘There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests.’ Once Amy Chua has drawn the readers she engages them further by using herself as an example. She has a firsthand experience by the fact that her husband is a Westerner, and she is Chinese. She is comparing the Western and Chinese parenting and therefore says: ‘All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.’ Their children will be successful even though they have to suffer to get there. The article has shown the huge difference between Chinese and Western upbringing. The conclusion on this debate, about which method you should choose, depends on your culture. There is no recipe that comprise a precise upbringing.

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