A ll parents – even those with children who challenge their patience – have enjoyed the experience of being told something good about their children by a friend, another parent, or a teacher. Maybe you’ve been told that your child has wonderful manners, or is bright, or gets along well with other children. Aren’t those experiences
just plain great?
What is the mantra of raising AN IDEAL CHILD? What is the real ideal child? What characteristics would they have?
Ideal and instrumentally competent children would be:
self assured and able to trust in themselves and their abilities, but not selfcentered,
responsible enough to do homework and household chores without being nagged, but not so diligent that opportunities for spontaneity and fun are missed,
willing to work to earn good grades and do their best in the sports, groups, or other activities that they join, but not dependent on others’ complements to feel good about themselves, and
in touch with their feelings and strong enough to learn from set backs and failures.
What can we, as parents, do to help our children develop this kind of instrumental competence?
As a foundation, we need to take care of ourselves. That is, we need to be rested and relaxed (not exhausted and stressed) so that we have the energy and ability to model instrumental competence in our own lives which in turn will reflect into the lives ofour children. In addition, there are skills we can learn and practice.
First, we can help our children by being attentive to and involved with our children. Children thrive with positive attention.
Second, we can encourage children to behave as well as their level of development
permits. Children will rise to our expectations, if our expectations are developmentally
appropriate. Children will also limit themselves if our expectations for them are too low.
Third, we must communicate our expectations for our children’s behavior to them
clearly and in ways that they understand.
Finally, we can help children develop instrumental competence by expressing warmth, concern, involvement, and pleasure in parenting.
How will these skills help parents raise instrumentally complete children?
By practicing these skills, children will learn and demonstrate the positive values, attitudes, and behaviors parents hope for. In addition, children will be motivated to express those values and attitudes and practice those behaviors because they believe they are correct and appropriate, not because they expect to be corrected if they don’t.
In this way, we as parents will raise "ideal children” who grow and develop in positive ways and develop and maintain a mind and will of their own.
Savitha Kannan, from Mumbai-India, is a mother and an aspiring writer on positive parenting, wanting to reach out to all parents of the 21st century.