xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Raising Happy Children

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Raising Happy Children

           Many school administrators these days spend an inordinate amount of their time dealing with child behaviour problems. Their problems compound when some parents, informed of their child's unacceptable behaviour, immediately blame the principal, the teacher or the school in general, in fact anybody except their precious child. This is in contrast to times gone by when parents would have supported the school discipline policy and may have even meted out additional penalties to their offending offspring.

            What has brought about this change in parent attitudes and the prevalence of children's lack of respect and increasing anti social behaviour? Well known child psychologist, John Rosemond, believes the situation has been caused by the “psychobabble” which parents these days are subject to. He says for many of today's parents, the problem is that they have too much information on how to bring up their children. 

            In earlier times parents raised children in much the same way as they themselves were raised. However, today's parents have access to more parenting advice than any other generation of parents in history. As a result some families become too “child centred” with the unfortunate consequence that their children finish up being “in charge.”

            Magazines, newspapers, radio, television and a whole raft of self appointed experts provide a constant flow of suggestions and ideas on how to raise children. Maybe that is the problem, says Rosemond? He observes that since the 1950s child rearing has become too confused. He blames much bad child behaviour on the plethora of advice and suggestions that modern parents receive from an ever growing army of academics.

            In his book, "The Six Point Plan For Raising Happy, Healthy Children", Rosemond refers to many of today's fashionable ideas about child rearing as "damaging myths”.
He lists six myths that can make parenting a nightmare and result in badly behaved children. I used to include these six myths of child raising in an a school newsletter at the beginning of each year. At least it let the parents know that I thought that they should be in charge of their children. Unfortunately, there were always a few families where the children were in charge.

Myth 1. Children Should Come First:
Emphatically not, says Rosemond. The more child centred the family is the more self centred the child becomes. Too much attention can be as damaging as too much food.
Myth 2. A Family Is a Democracy:
It definitely is not! There must be a clear expectation that children will obey their parents. Eventually, in every family, someone must have the final, responsible word. That person had better be an adult or else everyone is in trouble.
Myth 3. Housework is for parents only:
Wrong! Children should have set tasks and responsibilities in the household and for which they are not paid. This should start around three years of age when children are keen to copy others and eager to help.
Myth 4. Frustration is Bad For Children:
Not so! Life is full of frustrations and children should get used to that fact. Parents should supply all of a child's NEEDS but only about 25% of its WANTS. The word "No" from a parent is a great character builder for the child.
Myth 5. The More Toys The Better:
Untrue. Most of today's toys, especially the push button ones, stifle children's imagination. Much better are clay, paint, coloured pencils, books, puzzles and construction blocks. These are imaginative toys. So too are everyday things like spoons, pop sticks, boxes, paper bags...not to mention trees, rocks, tiles, sand piles and mud!
Myth 6. My Children Don't Watch Too Much T.V.
Don't they? The next time you see your pre school child watching T.V. ask yourself, 'What is my child doing?"
Quite often the answer is, "Nothing." 
Not one real skill is being exercised. Many television shows inhibit curiosity, initiative, motivation, imagination, reasoning, concentration and attention span. They also fail to promote logical, sequential thinking which often causes problems in following simple directions or anticipating the consequences of their behaviour.
            Maybe ignoring some of the "trendy" ideas about parenting and relying instead on the common sense ideas proposed by John Rosemond will provide parents with their best chance of raising happy, well adjusted children. A school full of happy, well adjusted children would certainly lighten the load for many hard working principals and teachers.

John Rosemond is a well known author, motivational speaker, columnist and broadcaster in The United States of America. His Six Point Plan to Raising Happy Children, first published in 1989,   has been updated since then.  To read more about his books and newspaper articles you can access his website at http://www.rosemond.com/

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