Monday, June 30th, 2014
What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on encouraging a focus on others.
Babies are social by nature. They want to interact with people. They want to be with people. And as they mature, they start to develop a capacity to be oriented to the needs of others.
During the toddler years, you can begin to encourage a sense of focusing on the needs of other people. There are research studies which show that if an adult drops something, a toddler is inclined to pick it up – and give it back to them. While they may not always want to share their toys instinctively, you can begin to send the message that someone else may want a turn too. And you can orient them to the pleasure that giving to others gives to them, so that it eventually gives pleasure to themselves.
The prominent pediatrician and author, Dr. Harvey Karp, suggests a technique called “playing the boob” with toddlers. If you act silly with them – and even act like you don’t know what you are doing – they will step in and help you. You can reverse the power structure and give them a sense of what it’s like to be the one who can do for others. An older sibling can learn to do for a younger sibling. Time with friends can be treated as opportunities to be nice hosts and to do things for them to help them feel welcome.
As children get older, you can encourage empathy and understanding. Even when celebrating a victory, you can reference how the other team feels. Sound strange or inconsistent with parenting for success? Hardly. People who do for others – people who know how to get into others’ heads and determine their needs – are often the most successful people. Focusing on others is not just a nice way to live, it’s also a great skill to have that pays dividends in life.
More in This Series
- Parenting Principle #1: Be Positive
- Parenting Principle #2: Talk, Talk, Talk
- Parenting Principle #3: Read, Read, Read
- Parenting Principle #4: Reduce Electronic Noise
- Parenting Principle #5: Cultivate Exploration
- Parenting Principle #7: Embrace Intervention
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