Training Kids to Succeed

I have recently begun leading a two month parenting class at our church.  (It’s at The Chapel in the Oaks on Siegen Lane at 9:00 am on Sunday mornings.  We would love to have you join us!)  You know, there is really nothing like teaching a class to remind you how much you need to learn and grow.  Doing what I do for a living, none of this material is really new to me.  But there is just something about facilitating discussion of someone else’s material that really helps me to stop thinking like an “expert” and get back to thinking like a parent in my own household.  This week I was reminded of a bedrock principle I teach my client-parents:

Parenting Like You Mean It! places a higher priority on training kids for success than on correcting their errors.

Correction is important, and kids will suffer greatly in the long run if their parents do not consistently correct them when they are out of line.  But even more important is taking regular time to explain and show them how to do whatever it is we want them to do well.  Perhaps an illustration from my household will help you see what I mean…

My son is in the fourth grade and seems to be utterly unfazed by sporting teeth that look like some kind of science experiment.  Or maybe he has simply found a most convenient way to carry around an extra little snack for those tricky times when he just can’t stop to grab anything.  “No problem!  I’ve got a whole wedge of cheese and half a chicken nugget stored right here between my upper right cuspid and incisor.  I’m good to go.”  Trust me, at this point you should be thankful I decided not to include a picture with this post.

I’m sure my wife and I both have taken the time to show him how to brush his teeth well.  His Nana probably has, too.  But lately, it seems we have been pouring lots of energy into checking his teeth when he is “done” and sending him back for a second brushing, and not so much energy into training and modeling good dental hygiene.  We have been fairly consistent on this issue, and even felt pretty good about how calmly we have been handling it (most of the time).  But his teeth have still been looking like rotting cheese.  So much for calm, consistent correction getting the job done (alone).

Then, I’m preparing for class this weekend, and it hits me, “Maybe I should start brushing my teeth WITH the lad every night!”  Remember that old V-8 television add where the person would smack his own forehead and exclaim, “I shoulda had a V-8!”?  Yeah, it was one of those moments.  So now I am brushing my teeth at the second sink in my son’s bathroom, making minimal commentary in the process.  And guess what?  His teeth are already cleaner.  Go figure.

Oh CRUD – now I’m finally going to have to start flossing!

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