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Father/SonNoticing that my son (age 5) was not particularly assertive (e.g. if another kid took a toy he was playing with, he just cried) I decided to embark on argument training. The problem is that in this attempt at rounding I seem to have been rather too successful, and now he argues about everything. And that includes some chess positions, even though he can't play. He's also started memorialising examples of his being assertive in "folk tales," which need to be repeated several times a day. For example there was the time a 2 year old tried to take his plane in Pizza Hut…

I'm starting to wonder if the best someone can really do is to try to improve himself whilst just spending time with his kids, with no particular goal in mind?

Jim Sogi suggests:

One, no matter what, always let the child know that you love him, even when he fails or is bad.

Second, especially ages 2-8, be consistent with rewards and punishments.  Don't spoil the child, but guide him with firm rules. He will be happier for it in the long run.   I see so many parents unwittingly training their children to be spoiled brats, and they both end up miserable. After that, its almost too late.  Manners and etiquette should be a part of the  program.

See Living with Children by Gerald Patterson for specifics.

Kim Zussman remarks:

How to raise happy, well rounded kids? That's easy: stay married.

Mom and dad need to transcend herd psycoidology insisting that happiness-entitlement derives from the continuous hunt for new itches to scratch.  If this doesn't resonate, go to church. Then, when your kids grow up happier and well adjusted, mom and dad will be happy as well.

At a Bar Mitzvah yesterday, the rabbi and new man discussed at length the reluctant leadership of Moses on his way to Exodus, as well as themes of peace, forgiveness, avoiding war, etc.  Ironically 80% of the audience had been divorced, and the audience included numerous young people with various parent/step-parent complexes.  So much for Ashkenazi IQ.

Russ Humbert writes:

PuppiesWatching a dog raising pups, you will see that the adults are pacifist during the first weeks. The pups can cause all manner of pain and annoyance, and both the male and female dog will take it all without any aggression. Then, once they are old enough to understand, comes the discipline. They are taught to understand hierarchy of the pack. They are also taught to become top dog you must fight. This shows us several things about ourselves that many modern parents ignore.

In a society that is becoming less and less hierarchical in nature and more team oriented, less discipline is needed, but more proper peer pressure. And, governmental attempts to ban corporal punishment by parents is doomed to failure. Like prohibition, the war on drugs, and sexual abstinence. When you go against the brain's natural response, the police lose. Anyone who has been close to the foster care system in this nation, knows first hand how dismal this failure is likely to be all at the expense of the most innocent, the child.

I would suggest that in raising a child one must consider his innate strengths and weaknesses in deciding how much of team player/hierarchical structure he needs. But also one must consider that most parents simple follow the "team" approach because it is popular.

In other words, teach a child to stick up for himself, but draw the line when he disrespects you.

Scott Brooks follows up:

Unless there is something biologically wrong with a child, there is no reason for that child to become depressed and miserable if he is raised to be happy and find joy in life. Becoming "genius-like" I believe is far more about nurturing than biology. Sure, biology helps, but the right environment is far more important. A good environment can make a kid, whereas a bad environment can break him, even if has the grey matter necessary to become a genius. Training your children how to think is the key. Not just how to think about intellectual endeavours, but how to think about philosophical and emotional endeavours.

Being happy is a choice. Having a good attitude is a choice. Being smart is a choice. I was beaten down in school because they thought I wasn't very smart. They wanted to put me in special school, but my mom wouldn't let them. But I was always raised with a belief system that my life was my choice. When I went away to college, I decided to make a fresh start, since no one knew me. I played the role of the smart guy and — surprise — I was smart and got good grades. I credit all that to my upbringing: being taught to be happy, find joy, to look on the bright side and always believe that good things would happen. I "got smart" as a result of that.

Jeff Sasmor recounts:

I let my kids (girls, 14 & 16) mostly do what they want as long as they keep up good grades. When they don't I hire tutors. As a result one has an A average and the other B+ with no nagging from me. About the only exception is that I never let them fall behind in math. They have had unfettered and unmonitored Internet access since they were each about 5 or 6.

I let them explore what they want to do and I don't push them in any direction; rather, I think it's more appropriate to encourage them in what they appear to be interested in. One has become a really quite good writer. The other has self-taught herself to become a good artist and is starting a band with some friends.

They should explore while they are able; most adults do not have that luxury once they have to pay rent. They do have friends whose lives are scripted to strict schedules of sport and other activities. I don't understand this sort of parental behaviour, but then I don't understand many things that involve people's minds.


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