How to raise children who make good choices (even when we are not around!)

In a recent Incredible Years group, one parent’s main goal was that her kids learned to make the right decisions while she wasn’t there to monitor them. This goal clearly names one of the main purposes of parenting, namely to teach kids to truly internalize how to make good, healthy choices. As parents, it’s our job to teach our kids not to steal, not to lie, to be kind to others, and to be able to cope with life’s many ups and downs. We want to them to carry our traditions, pass along our wisdom, and teach them to listen to their own hearts. And we take our jobs very seriously. So seriously that we may actually be working against ourselves and not actually helping our children learn how to make good choices. Brandishing our love for them and clutching our fear that they could go down the wrong road, we may forget that we won’t always be there with them making sure they eat enough vegetables or standing up for them if someone is crossing their boundaries. What makes our job as parents challenging is that our kids need to be given the opportunity to learn these skills AND be internally motivated to use them. The recent article entitled What if Everything You knew About Discipline Was Wrong? considers what is really working in schools to change the behavior of challenging children. The article suggests that behavioral techniques, such as punishment and rewards “sacrifice long term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short term gain—momentary peace in the classroom.” Basically, researchers are showing that the more teachers...