Monday, May 23, 2011

Lemmings or Lions

One of the things I want to foster in my kids is a great self confidence.  I am not talking about arrogance or being boastful.  I mean an inner strength that enables them to make decisions based on their values and not based on their environment.  Where do I begin?  How do I attack this huge task?  They seem so young.  Is it really necessary to open this can of worms now?  The answer is absolutely, yes.  A baby lemming will not grow up to be a strong lion, and an insecure child is probably not going grow into a secure teen. So, we need to put on our big girl panties and get to work.

Where do we begin?  For me, the first step is to teach them that their voice has value.  I try to listen to their ideas when the intended goal can still be met.  For example, I told the boys that we were going to eat dinner, take our bath, do homework and then they could play a game for 30 minutes before bed.  My youngest son immediately started throwing a fit.  My older son, who is learning how we work at our house, asked me if he could suggest an idea.  I said sure and he suggested play, dinner, homework and then bath.  My response was, "Thank you for using your words.  That idea is fine with me."  I then gave #2 the opportunity to use his words so that he could get the same deal and reiterated to him that fit throwing will never change my mind.

I think sometimes we tell our kids "no" just because it is the most convenient answer.   I honestly did not care what order we did the list of events; I just wanted them done!   But by allowing #1 to have a voice in the situation I was able to get the list done and reinforce the truth that their voices matter.  It was a win-win!

The tricky part is keeping your focus on the big picture goal of growing a child's character rather than getting caught up in the whirlwind of your immediate needs.  That is when I ask myself, am I raising lemmings or lions?  I can't get irritated at them for acting like lemmings if that is all I have trained them to be.  I am committed to raising lions.  Taming lions is no small task.  I will grab my whip and chair and jump in the ring; or, more realistically, I will grab spaghetti and a Bumbo - but, you get the point ;)


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