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What Makes A Successful Childhood?

Nov 29, 2007
A good childhood depends largely on good parenting. But what does good parenting involve? You have likely heard advice on the subject. Commit time to your children. Listen to them. Give them sound guidance. Empathize with them, sharing their joys and sorrows. Be a true friend to them without relinquishing your authority as a parent. Of course, such oft-repeated principles will help parents to do their job well. But there is something more basic and more important that must come first.

Some segments of modern society have lost sight of the goal. But you do not have to follow suit. Keep in mind that your child is "delicate"--unable to shoulder adult burdens and responsibilities. If, for example, you are a single parent with some difficult personal problem and feel tempted to confide in your child, resist the urge. Instead, seek out a mature adult friend who can help you to sort matters out In a similar vein, do not let the pace of your child's life become so harried, so scheduled, so regimented, that all the youthful fun is squeezed out of life. Set a pace that is right for your child, not one that slavishly matches the pace of today's world.

Children have a special need to play, to laugh, to vent their youthful energy in a relatively carefree manner. If their every waking moment is scheduled with school, after-school activities, and other serious responsibilities, then their need for play may go unmet. That, in turn, may cause them to become exasperated, even downhearted.

Consider this, since there is a time for everything, does that not suggest that childhood is the time to be a child? You will likely answer yes, but your children may not always agree. Very often, little boys and girls want to do what they see adults doing. For example, young girls may be tempted to dress and groom themselves as if the
y were women. The early onset of puberty may increase the pressure they feel to appear older.

Wise parents see the danger in such a tendency. Some advertisements and entertainment in this world present children as sexually aware and precocious. Makeup, jewelry, and provocative clothing styles are increasingly common among little ones. But why make children more tempting to perverted people who seek to exploit them sexually? By helping children to dress in a way that is appropriate for their age, this may actually protect them from those who want to exploit them.

Another example: Allowing sports to become a child's top priority can lead to an unbalanced life, one in which there is no longer an appointed time for everything. Do not let your children buy into the "winning is everything" mentality. Many parents drain all the fun out of sports and games by driving their children to be super-competitive, to win at all costs. Some children thus feel driven to cheat or even injure other players in order to win. Surely winning is never worth such a cost!

Learning that there is a time for everything is often difficult for children. It is not easy for them to wait patiently when they want something. To make matters worse, human society seems bent on a quest for instant gratification. The entertainment media often convey the message, "Get what you want and get it now!"

Do not give in to such influences by pampering and spoiling your children. "The ability to delay gratification is an important aspect of emotional intelligence," says the book The Child and the Machine. "Self-discipline and social harmony provide a potent antidote to the increasing violence that is occurring among children both in and out of school." Loving discipline helps children to develop such qualities as self-control and patience. These traits will help them find happiness and fulfillment throughout life.
About the Author
Adam Webster is the author of numerous health and family related articles and books. You can find some of his latest articles on Successful Parenting
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