Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Successful Transitions: How Do You Raise Wise Children?

All parents want to raise wise kids. But where does wisdom really come from? 

Intelligence is not the same as wisdom. Our children may have good information about their medical conditions. However, even when they have enough education and intelligence to drive good decisions, that does not always translate into the wisdom needed to take good care of themselves especially with an illness like cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, or diabetes where the results of poor care may be decades away.

So where does wisdom come from? Don’t we hear that “Wisdom comes from trial and error?” There are plenty of sayings: “Wisdom comes from experience” or “Wisdom comes from the school of hard knocks,” etc.

Unfortunately, wisdom only comes with trial and error if the error is accompanied by negative consequences that can be correlated. The correct way of stating that, as unpopular as it may be in modern-day America, is: “People have to suffer the consequences of their mistakes and poor choices.”

This means that when our children make a mistake, we don’t just automatically always rescue them.  Instead, we respond by loving them, talking it over with them, and providing ideas about how they might get themselves out of a challenging situation.

Parents who raise children without wisdom usually do it by making two common mistakes. First, they try to make sure their children don’t make mistakes. Secondly, when their children do make mistakes, the parents try to fix it. They do something outside the child’s skin to make it better.

Wise parents who raise wisdom-filled children respond to the situation by talking it over with the child so he or she learns from the mistake. They put all their energy into what’s going on inside their child’s skin.

When children are ill, this is a difficult concept because parents of ill children are normally overprotective. They have to be in the early years. But as the child grows older, it is essential for the parents to back off, put less energy into making sure the environment responds correctly to their child, and spend more energy into ensuring their child can cope with all environments.

In other words, parents put less energy into fixing things outside the skin and more energy into growing a child with the wisdom to handle what the environment throws at him or her.
So, instead of trying to prevent or fix mistakes, allow children to experience the natural consequences of their choices (as long as they don’t result in serious or irreversible harm). It’s better for a child to learn about safe driving by crashing a tricycle on the lawn and skinning up knees than cracking up the family car at age seventeen!

There’s no better teacher than the school of hard knocks. Start early; when the price tag for mistakes is much lower.
Foster W. Cline, MD is a child psychiatrist and co-founder of Love and Logic®. Lisa C. Greene is a parenting educator and mom of two children with cystic fibrosis. Together they have written the award-winning book “Parenting Children with Health issues."  For free audio, articles and other resources, visit www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.com.  

For more tips about how to use consequences to raise wise kids, check out the book “Parenting Children with Health Issues”.  

© Copyright by Foster Cline, MD and Lisa Greene. All rights reserved. 

1 comment:

  1. Easier said than done, but I have used this technique a time or two aleady. Rachel is now 6. I'm happy with my decision and Rachel's learning experience.


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