What is the most important ingredient for motivating children to develop personal responsibility and the skills/characteristics to reach their full potential?
Every year, as kids return to school, people ask this question. Some believe the answer lies in developing improved teaching methods and more advanced curricula. Others contend that the solution involves improving the types of tests administered to students.
At Love and Logic, we believe that the single most important factor affecting children involves the quality of relationships they experience with important adults in their lives. We believe that there will never be enough rewards, consequences, or techniques to get kids to behave and learn responsibility if we are not first developing positive relationships. In fact, rules, consequences, and rewards can backfire without healthy relationships.
- Rules provided without relationship result in rebellion.
- Consequences given without relationship lead to resentment.
- Rewards without relationship feel like bribes.
When most of us recall the adults from our youth who had the biggest positive impact on us, we think of those who:
- had high expectations and communicated them to us through loving limits,
- focused mostly on our strengths, not our weaknesses,
- spent a lot of time with us,
- listened to us,
- guided us rather than told us what to do,
- empathized when things went wrong,
- modeled healthy, assertive behavior, and
- held us accountable, yet loved us, even when our behavior wasn’t lovable.
As this list shows, adults who enjoy positive, healthy relationships with children will be viewed as powerful and loving at the very same time. During this school year, let’s make it a goal to be this type of adult for the wonderful children we know and love.
Dr. Charles Fay