Good Parenting Requires/Involves Great Leadership – Part 4

In my three previous entries on parenting I focused on the importance of modeling and teaching children patience and self-control, the necessity for parents to challenge their children and allow them to fail, and the importance of interacting with your children in ways that will benefit them intellectually.

This entry my focus will turn to some of the well-intentioned mistakes parents have made that resulted in unintended consequences. Most parents feel very comfortable letting their young children watch educational television programming on PBS Kids like Arthur or The Berenstain Bears. But research has shown that though these shows have high-minded educational story lines that are easy for teens and older individuals to grasp. They spend too much time on conflict and too little time on resolution for younger children to absorb the intended message and this ends up increasing relational aggression in children.

Children that are relationally aggressive are often disliked by others, and this type of peer rejection makes them an easy target for future peer victimization. Peer rejection is also associated with a number of social and psychological problems across a child’s development. The skills many children learn watching these programs are advanced skills in clique formation, friendship withdrawal and the art of a good insult.

Not so surprisingly, the more physically aggressive children’s programs, Power Rangers, etc. are correlated to more physically aggressive behavior in young children. That is why for both of the above reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of three watch no television and that those over three are limited to no more than one hour a day of programming.

Another well intentioned mistake is being overly concerned with language development in young children. The only thing typical in language development prior to entering elementary school is variability. There is NO correlation between onset of language and future achievement.

Often the kids who seem to be behind are actually ahead as they already understand a larger vocabulary than the children who are talking all the time. These children simply are shy about speaking or have not yet developed the necessary motor control to say the words they know.

The final issue I want to cover is ‘The Fallacy of Similar Effect.’ Society has been encouraging us to praise our children at every opportunity, but unfortunately society got it wrong. This works on many adults, but has an adverse affect on children. Children that are praised frequently become more competitive and become more interested in tearing others down in a desperate effort to maintain their image of their own specialness or greatness. It also undermines children’s intrinsic motivation, which often leads to underachievement.

Over praising has become a panacea for the anxieties of modern day parents to allay their guilt for not being around more for their children. Not only is it selfish, it is a disservice to the very children they love, as it can cause irreparable damage to them. Less frequent praise teaches children that they can work through tough times and helps them develop persistence. Children that are constantly praised learn the opposite.

As the author of The Supreme Philosophy of Man: The Laws of Life, Alfred A. Montapart says “Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” So please do not make choices in the raising of your children that will unfairly saddle them with future consequences.


You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc


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