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Mindful Parenting for Gritty Children
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jul 27, 2016
If you're raising young children or even teenagers and wonder from time to time if your approach to parenting will yield emotionally intelligent, courageous, and persevering progeny, I think you'll find Dr. Angela Duckworth's book on Grit to be a worthwhile read.
Having had a strong calling to be a father and raise children from the time I was in my early 20s, I have long believed that my children will never doubt my love for them - I remain hopeful and optimistic that they know from my daily behaviour that I deeply cherish them.
But I realize that to fill their tanks with warmth and love doesn't necessarily mean that they will grow up to be independent, courageous, and gritty when times get tough. While I value warmth and thoughtfulness above other personality traits, I want to provide them with an environment that facilitates development of grit.
In her book, Dr. Duckworth describes four types of parenting:
Wise Parenting - being Supportive and Demanding.
Authoritarian Parenting - being Unsupportive and Demanding.
Permissive Parenting - being Supportive and Undemanding.
Neglectful Parenting - being Unsupportive and Undemanding.
Her contention is that Wise Parenting - which I prefer to think of as Mindful Parenting - is most likely to lead to gritty children.
So that semantics don't cloud things, by demanding, I believe Dr. Duckworth is describing the intent to encourage good work ethic and having standards for behaviour.
In her book, Dr. Duckworth shares a series of statements that you can ask your children for honest, real-time reactions to - whether they mostly agree or mostly disagree. Our boys - now 11 and 9 - and Margaret were visibly surprised and amused in a positive way when I whipped these questions out over dinner the other evening - 'twas a fun exercise, one that gave the four of us an opportunity to learn how each of us feels about the life we are creating together.
The main idea is to find out if your children feel that you are lovingly supportive, respectfully supportive, and if you have standards for their behaviour. Statements that are FULLY CAPITALIZED are reverse-coded, meaning that if your children agree with them, there is likely some room for some tweaking on your end to better facilitate development of grit.
Do your children mostly agree or mostly disagree with the following statements?
I can rely on my parents to help me if I have a problem.
My parents spend time just talking with me.
My parents and I do things together that are fun.
MY PARENTS DON'T REALLY LIKE ME TO TELL THEM MY TROUBLES.
MY PARENTS ALMOST NEVER PRAISE ME FOR DOING WELL.
My parents make me feel like I have the right to have my own opinions.
MY PARENTS TELL ME THAT THEIR IDEAS ARE CORRECT AND THAT THERE IS NO ROOM FOR DISCUSSION.
My parents respect my privacy.
My parents give me plenty of freedom.
MY PARENTS MAKE MOST OF THE DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT I CAN DO.
Demanding - Having Standards and Good Work Ethic
My parents expect me to follow family rules.
MY PARENTS LET ME GET AWAY WITH A LOT OF THINGS.
My parents point out ways that I could do better.
WHEN I DO SOMETHING WRONG, MY PARENTS DON'T PUNISH ME (NO CONSEQUENCES).
My parents expect me to do my best even when things are difficult.
I hope this post serves as stimulus for healthy conversation between you and your loved ones. If you have any thoughts on this topic that you'd like to share, please feel free to use the comments section below.
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