Tag Archive for curiosity

The One Trait Kids Need to Achieve

Did you know that children from a lower socioeconomic status often have lower academic achievement than peers from families with higher income? According to several studies, children who live in families with a lower socioeconomic status start school with a disadvantage, they don’t have access to the same resources. As a result, they have lower academic achievement UNLESS… Yes, there is a BUT to this statement. There is one trait that levels the playing field. If children have this one trait, they perform equally well regardless of socioeconomic status! This trait even gives an advantage. Most important, parents can nurture it! What is this all-powerful trait for academic achievement? Curiosity. That’s right. (Learn more about the benefit of curiosity in Parenting the Curious Explorer.)children exhibit curiosity they achieve well regardless of socioeconomic level and even ability to sustain attention (What Science Says is One Trait Kids Most Need to Succeed in School). Fortunately, parents can nurture curiosity. If your curious about how to nurture curiosity, try these 6 tips.

  1. Ask questions. When your children show an interest in something, even a fleeting interest, ask them questions about that interest. Become a student of your children’s interests. Let them teach you about the object or topic of their interest.
  2. Let them ask questions. I know…sometimes it gets old listening to our children incessantly ask questions. But, let them ask. Feed their inquisitive nature. Encourage their exploration. If you don’t know the answer, help them look it up. You’ll learn a lot. They’ll learn a lot. You’ll deepen your relationship with them. And, you’ll nurture a curiosity that will contribute to future achievement.
  3. Make up alternative endings. Enjoy a good book or movie with your children. Then write a new ending. Maybe write two. What happened to Cinderella when she and the prince run off together? What did Moana do after she restored Te Fiti’s heart, what other adventures did she experience? Use your imagination and have fun.
  4. Allow your children to experience new things. Better yet, encourage your children to experience new things. You don’t have to push them into things. You can do it with them. Take them to free concerts of all types of music. Accompany them to the park, the zoo, the river, the ocean, the conservatory. Visit the aviary and make up stories about the strange birds you find.
  5. Travel. Traveling is a great way to experience new things and nurture curiosity. You don’t have to travel far. Look around your state and see what would be of interest to visit. There are historic sites, nature sites, and interesting factories. For instance, our family had the opportunity to visit the Crayola factory, the Bluebell Ice cream plant, the Andy Warhol Museum, Gettysburg, and Lincoln’s home among others. Traveling also allows your children to experience different cultures. It all nurtures curiosity. What can you visit near your home or near family?
  6. Pay attention. When you pay attention to your children and focus on the things that catch their attention, you increase their attention span (Nurture Your Child’s Attention Span) and their curiosity.

I’m curious…what are some other ways you nurture your children’s curiosity? Share them in the comment section below.

Motivating Children with Tin Men Eating Artichokes

Why did the tin man eat artichokes? That’s a good question…and the answer is coming up. An even better question is how to motivate our children to follow through with chores and other desired behaviors. Parents have struggled with this “age old problem” since the beginning of time and one answer involves tin men eating artichokes. In fact, I recently reviewed a series of four studies revealing how parents can use the tin man eating artichokes to motivate their children. Curious?  Yes, that’s the answer. Curiosity helps motivate. Polman and colleagues showed this in four experiments (Read study here). In the first study, 200 people were given a choice of eating one of two cookies. One was covered in chocolate and sprinkles. The other was a plain old fortune cookie that contained “personal information” about them.  That fortune cookie aroused their curiosity and 71% chose to discover the “personal information” rather than enjoy chocolate and sprinkles.

In the second study, participants were given a choice of watching a “high-brow film” versus a comedic, entertaining film. When given a simple choice, the high-brow film gained a many viewers. However, when researchers promised to reveal the secret to a magic trick only in the high-brow film, the number choosing the high-brow film increased significantly. Seems curiosity outweighs pure entertainment for many.

Next, the researchers wanted to see if curiosity would encourage people to use the stairs rather than the elevator. After measuring the average number of elevator versus stair users, the researchers added curiosity to the mix. They put a question at the bottom of the stairs noting the answer would be found in the stairwell. It was a simple question: “What animal preceded man into space?”  They put four true answers in the stairwell. Only those taking the stairs could discover this answer.  Yes, you guessed it. When curiosity was added to the mix significantly more people took the stairs!  (The answer was frog, guinea pig, rabbit, and fruit fly by the way.)

Finally, in a fourth study, the researchers wanted to see if curiosity could increase the sale of fruits and vegetables. They did this by writing a joke above the produce and giving the answer only at the wrapping area.  For instance, the question over the artichokes was, “Why did the tin man eat artichokes?” The answer could only be discovered by wrapping the produce for purchase. When a consumer did so, they learned the tin man ate artichokes because he “always wanted a heart” (hahaha). Once again, produce sales went up when simple jokes added curiosity to the purchasing process.

What does this have to do with your children? We might try using some curiosity to encourage them to do their chores or eat their vegetables or…anything at all. We did this when our daughter was in kindergarten. She had difficulty getting her morning routine done in time for school. So, we made puzzles out of pictures of her favorite cartoon dragon characters.  We didn’t tell her which dragon it was but for each task of her morning chore she received a puzzle piece. Much to her delight, she received the final puzzle piece when she completed the final task and could see the whole dragon. Just imagine how many different ways you might use curiosity as one tool to encourage your children to do their chores: the answer to a joke at the bottom of a bowl of fruit, the discovery of some secret when they finish a chore, the opportunity for a surprise when they make their bed…. The list is only limited by our imagination. So, get your creativity and start building curiosity.

How to Avoid the “Failure to Launch” Syndrome

Parents love to see their preschooler exploring the world around them. We encourage our children to engage in exploration and play. Rightly so…such exploration helps them discover their interests and strengths during elementary school, their passion and identity during their teen years, and their vocation and independence in young adulthood. Exploring is crucial to healthy developmental in each age group. And, if you really think about it, it requires a great deal of courage for our children to explore the world and “become their own person.” Unfortunately, many parents unwittingly embezzle their children’s innate courage, robbing them of the grit and determination needed to develop healthy independence. Don’t embezzle your children’s innate courage, invest in it and nurture it with these four tips.

  1. Accept your children’s unique style of exploration. I have two daughters. One jumps into new activities and experiences. The other wades in slowly, first one toe and then another before her whole foot slips in. Then she slowly (sometimes painfully slowly) wades further in until she is fully immersed. (She takes after me, by the way.) Eventually, both daughters become fully immersed in an adventure, but they required different kinds of support and encouragement. One needed encouragement to “think before she leaps.” The other needed a hand, support, and even a gentle nudge at times. As young adults, they still have different styles and ways of approaching new experiences; but both of them have become independent and capable of courageous exploration. Accepting each child’s unique style of exploration and nurturing it in a complementary manner allows your child to explore courageously.
  2. Observe before removing obstacles. Our children will encounter obstacles, problems, and frustrations along the way. It is inevitable. Do not jump in to help too quickly. Step back for a moment and observe. Watch them to see how they respond to the obstacle. Give them the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. Watch a preschooler with a toy and you will see them try several actions with it before settling for the one that seems most appropriate. Let your elementary age children and your teens do the same with challenges that arise. Let them struggle with various attempts to solve the problem before you offer a suggestion. You might be pleasantly surprised at the creative solution they discover. (More on “stepping back” in Do Your Rob Your Teen of Victory?)
  3. Teach problem-solving. Of course, our children will not have the ability and knowledge to solve every problem that arises. So, when they come to you for help or you see them reach an impasse, teach them problem-solving. Teach problem solving rather than simply solving the problem for them. Ask questions about what they have done and why it did not work. Ask questions to prompt other ways of looking the problem and thus give rise to a potential solution. Help them look at the obstacle from various perspectives and points of view. Come up with three or four possible solutions and let them choose which one they will try first. Learning the process of problem-solving gives children the confidence they need to courageously explore the world around them.
  4. Acknowledge effort and reframe failures as learning. Children become more willing to explore when they know that effort produces success and failure is simply a step toward success. So, acknowledge and praise children’s effort. When they do make a mistake or fail, return to step three and teach problem-solving. Effort and problem-solving opens up a world of possibility and emboldens exploration. (Read Growing Your Child’s Mind for Success for more.)

These four tips can help increase our children’s courage to explore…and that can help us avoid the “failure to launch” syndrome as they mature. It will also give you the pleasure of watching your child explore the world with confidence and, in so doing, grow more independent and mature.

Keep Curiosity Alive in Mom & Dad

People love babies. Just watch a group of women talking around one baby. Everyone chatters away until the baby utters a single monosyllabic sound while waving his arm. Suddenly, all chatter stops and everyone’s eyes turn to the baby. Curious gazes watch to see what the baby will do next. Then, as the baby makes eye contact with the women, a collective “Awwww” will be released. Guys, we love babies too. Admit it. Research has already outed us by revealing many men get “baby fever” and go all “goo-goo” in response to babies (Read “Baby Fever is a Real Emotion”). Men and women delight in babies. They arouse our curiosity. We want to know what they are thinking and feeling, so we pay special grandfather and grandchildattention to their every move. We follow their gaze to see what attracts their attention. We engage them in a variety of playful ways to see what draws them to us and makes them smile. We present various toys to see which ones they like the best, to discover what interests them the most. We make faces and look silly in an effort to make them laugh and repeat that silly behavior until they tire of laughing. Every day our curiosity leads us to learn something new about our baby. We listen closely to every sound, learning to discern which cry sounds the alarm for a diaper change and which cry signals hunger. We observe their face with curiosity, learning which face calls for comfort and which means they have gas. We love babies. They arouse our curiosity and we become their students to learn as much about them as we can.

Unfortunately, those acts of curious delight change as our baby grows through toddlerhood, childhood, and into adolescence. Rather than following their gaze to discover what attracts them, we begin to tell them to “quit staring.” We direct their gaze in directions we believe will limit their risk and decrease our fears. Instead of exploring what attracts their interest and holds their attention, we tell them to pay attention to whatever we deem important (our directions, church, school, crossing the street). We don’t explore what it is that does attract their attention and so lose the knowledge and opportunity needed to present them with alternative attractions that we deem safe and interesting to them. When their play becomes silly we judge their maturity or lack thereof. Rather than playing to discover what draws them to us, we judge their pulling away from us as a lack of appreciation for all our efforts. Instead of creating opportunities for them to laugh at and with us, we tell them to grow up and get serious. We listen half-heartedly while labeling or minimizing their emotions rather than discerning the need that lies beneath the emotion. We scold and assume negative intentions instead of trying to figure out what is causing their outburst. I understand it. We want our children to learn. We want them to mature. We want to keep them safe.  So, as they grow, we replace our curiosity with discipline. As a result, our relationship, and our influence, suffers.

In reality, we do a better job of keeping our children safe, helping them mature, and teaching them important life lessons when we maintain our curiosity. Sure, we have to discipline; but when discipline replaces curiosity our children suffer. When we maintain playful curiosity, our children will more likely reveal their emotions, intents, fears, and desires to us. As we maintain a curious observation of what bothers them and excites them, we will also learn what comforts them and motivates them. When we find ways to continue laughing with our children, they will feel free to cry with us as well, providing us the opportunity to comfort them. Maintaining a playful curiosity in our children (even when we need to discipline) will enhance our relationship with them. It will increase our opportunity to influence and guide them. It will allow us to watch with great curiosity how they mature into confident adults. So have some fun. Be curious about your child and your teen. Be silly. Play. The world will be a better place for it!

Family Fun When it’s Blah Outside

It can be tough to find a fun family activity when it’s cold or rainy outside. But, never fear. Kids looking through magnifying glassThis idea will provide a full day of family fun for the price of going out to dinner as a family. No, it’s not dinner. It lasts longer than dinner, giving you more for your money. What is it? Your family can have a blast all day at the Children’s Museum (check out all the fun you can have at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum here). At the Children’s Museum, you and your family can experience amazing fun at the crossroads of curiosity, creativity, and hands-on experimentation. You can learn about woodworking, circuitry, stop-motion animation, and bouncy balls through hands-on activities. That’s not all either. You can witness illusions of all kinds, explore transportation that drives, flies, or rolls through space, and discover the joys of creative water play. As you can imagine, this fun family activity will fill a whole day with laughter, fun, and learning. So, when it looks like a boring day inside because of rain or bad weather, head on down to the Children’s Museum and have a family blast.

A Baker’s Dozen to Show Grace in Troubled Relationships

John Gottman believes “91% of the time the ground is ripe for miscommunications” in a marriage. I don’t know about the percentage, but I know conflict and misunderstandings arise in every family. It is inevitable. But, have you notice that family conflict can go from familysunheartbad to worse in no time? Grace gets thrown out the window and everyone involved begins to respond with anger, blame, accusations, and defensiveness. These responses lead to more anger, blame, accusations, and defensiveness. They may even result in withdrawal from the relationship and the death of a family. How can you avoid this terrible end? Respond with grace. Grace is an unmerited kindness, a favor given to someone even if they do not deserve it. When at least one person responds with grace, the outcome of the interaction will change. The people involved in the argument have a greater chance of connecting rather than pushing one another away. The argument has a greater chance of reaching a resolution. Let me share a baker’s dozen for responding with grace in the midst of troubled family relationships.

  • Rather than blaming the other person, look at your own contribution to the current situation (the log in your own eye).
  • Rather than making accusations, accept responsibility for your own actions and your own limited understanding.
  • Rather than responding with defensiveness, respond with curiosity about the feelings and emotions of the other person.
  • Rather than shutting down, communicate with the other person.
  • Rather than arguing and fighting, share a friendly conversation about something that interests the other person. If some topics lead to arguments, table them for another time.
  • Rather than assuming negative intent about the other person and their actions, look for the times they showed love. Assume positive intent—even in seemingly negative behavior.
  • Rather than trying to control the situation or the other person, pursue an understanding of the other person.
  • Rather than focus on the negative you perceive in the other, focus on what you admire and adore in them.
  • Rather than trying to make the other person change or “grow,” focus on your personal growth. You are only responsible for your personal growth.
  • Rather than criticizing and making accusations about the other person’s past or character, practice kindness…and give a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
  • Rather than making assumptions about the other person’s motives or intents, believe the best and simply ask what the other person wants.
  • Rather than speaking in sarcasm, speak in patience and love.
  • Rather than taking responsibility for the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and decision, take responsibility for yourself. You cannot make the other person happy—that is their personal responsibility. You cannot make decisions for the other person or determine how they will live—that is their personal responsibility. Let the other person take their responsibility and you take your responsibility.

 

Responding with grace in the midst of troubled family relationships will change, filling you with greater character and personal strength. It will change your relationship as well, filling it with greater joy and intimacy.

The Not-So-Silent Killer Stalking Your Family!

There is a killer stalking your family. This killer does not physically attack families; but it will destroy family relationships and devastate each person’s self-image. Sometimes it works subtly, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding behind humor, knowledge, and deception. At other times it blatantly attacks family members. This enemy of your family goes by many names, but ultimately we know it goes by the name of disrespect.

 

馬鹿にするビジネスマンDisrespect harms individuals and devastates relationships. It creates wounds so toxic they can remain open and unhealed for a lifetime! Disrespect thrusts a person into an inferior role.  It creates an environment of inequality, an environment in which the disrespected person is treated as less valuable, less worthy, and less esteemed. The very act of disrespect sets up a hierarchy in which the disrespectful person assumes the role of a controlling master and assigns the role of a less capable, less intelligent serf onto the one he disrespects. The disrespected person naturally responds with anger and rebellion, self-hate and emotional withdrawal, or both. Communication falters and, eventually, the relationship dies. Disrespect is a killer stalking your family!

 

A person can show disrespect toward family in several ways. Jennifer Gill Rosier, PhD (The Family Coach) discusses five ways family members can show disrespect to one another:

  • Disgracing. Family members show this type of disrespect when they criticize or insult other family members. Disgracing includes name calling, shaming, and attacks on a person’s character.
  • Dramatizing. We dramatize by using absolute language (words like “always,” “never,” “all,” “none,” etc.) to describe other family members or their behavior in a negative way. For example, “You never did care about me;” “You never listen to me;” “You always boss me around;” “You will always be a loser;” etc.
  • Dictating. This type of disrespect occurs when we give orders, commands, or communicate in a way that implies a hierarchy with us on top. A person who shows this type of disrespect often expects family members to make huge investments in family relationships or household duties while making no investment of their own.
  • Disregarding. Family members disregard one another by ignoring or rejecting. Disregarding shows its ugly head when a person ignores a family member’s attempts to converse, a family member’s feelings, or family member’s interests, among other things. The disregarding person can also simply reject other family members directly—”leave me alone”—for no real reason.
  • Dominating. We exhibit disrespect when we control the conversation, inhibiting our spouse or child from involvement by interrupting them, talking over them, or simply overpowering them during a conversation. A person can also show this type of disrespect by telling another person what to feel, think, or find interesting rather than allowing them to determine their own feelings, thoughts, and interests.

 

We may all show disrespect to family members from time to time. However, if disrespect becomes the norm, family relationships die. So, if you find yourself becoming disrespectful, apologize and change your behavior. Here are some behaviors to replace disrespect.

  • Rather than disgracing family members, encourage family members. Build up your family members. Make statements that will bring them joy. Honor them with your words.
  • Stop using words like “always” and “never.” Instead, deal with each situation as it arises. Focus on one thing at a time.
  • Invest in your family. Rather than barking out orders and commands, work with your family to get things done. Make chores and household duties a family project. Involve everyone, especially yourself!
  • Honor family members with your time and attention. Turn off the TV, take a break from the video game, and focus on your family members.
  • Include everyone in the conversation. That means you have to listen. Look each person in the eye and listen. Get curious about each family member’s feelings, thoughts, and desires…and consider those feelings, thoughts, and desires as you make plans.

Those are just a few ways to replace disrespect with respect in your home. The ideas are simple, but they will have a long-lasting and magnificent impact on your family life and joy!

Parents, Are You a Slingshot or an Anchor?

Michael Byron, Smith, retired Air Force officer, wrote an excellent blog for the National Fatherhood Institute (click here to read it). In this blog, he wrote: “Families should be slingshots, throwing children into the world prepared for what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the problems of dysfunctional families are like anchors, dragging down their children’s potential….” So, I have to ask: Have you created a family environment that will serve as a slingshot for your children or an anchor? 

Anchor families:

  • Punishment concept.Place unrealistic expectations on their children.
  • Make demeaning, degrading, and discouraging remarks about their children or their children’s activities.
  • Imply greater acceptance of their children only after they have performed to a certain level (good grades, starting team, practiced their instrument, etc.).
  • Punish or demean children for times they experience failure.
  • Offer rude criticisms about their child’s character or performance.
  • Engage in name-calling.
  • Disregard their children’s feelings…or even punishing their children for “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness.
  • Tell or imply they know more about what their children feel, think, or like than their children do themselves.

 

These behaviors act as anchors around your children’s neck. They weigh your children down, drowning them under the waves of guilt and shame.

 

Slingshot families, on the other hand:

  • grandfather and granddaughter with computer at homeLearn about the development of children, their children’s development in particular, so they can maintain realistic expectations.
  • Encourage their children.
  • Make sure their children know they are loved even when they fall short of perfection or have a particularly bad day.
  • Teach their children that failure is an opportunity to learn. They encourage determination and healthy persistence.
  • Offer their children constructive criticism in a loving manner.
  • Use “negative” feelings like anger, frustration, sorrow, or tearfulness as opportunities to grow more intimate with their children.
  • Remain curious about their children’s feelings, thoughts, and interests…using them as touch-points from which to deepen intimacy.

 

These behaviors serve as slingshots for your children. They help your children develop the skills necessary to navigate the world with courage, confidence, and poise.

 

So, I ask again. Which one are you—an anchor family or a slingshot family?

Parenting the Curious Explorer

Children…curiosity…exploration…constant questioning. These words seem almost synonymous, don’t they? In fact, children love to explore. They have an incessant curiosity that leads them to actively investigate everything around them. They explore things with their eyes, ears, hands, and even mouth. Like miniature scientists they study the world around them to discover “how” and “why” things happen the way they do.
In the midst of all this curiosity and exploration, do you know what interests children most? You do! They want to know everything about you, their parent–what interests you, what holds your attention, what arouses your emotions. That’s why your infant wants to play with the cell phone you spend so much time looking at or the pots and pans you spend the hour before dinner using. A child’s curiosity also leads him to ask you unending questioning–“What are you doing?” “What’s that?” “How’s that work?” “What’s that do?” “Why?” Sometimes this curious desire to know leads them to engage in somewhat irritating behaviors like flipping the light switch on and off to learn about cause and effect, or, throwing their spoon on the ground to see how much they can get you to do. As they get older, their curiosity encourages them to chase after ants with a magnifying glass to look at their magnified image and learn about nature. Even a teen’s curiosity leads to behavior we sometimes questions, like “doing donuts” in a snowy parking lot or setting a firecracker off in a model car. They want to know about everything…especially those things that interest you. This incessant desire to learn about the world may even lead to behavior you don’t particularly like. I remember learning how to make a “washtub bass guitar.” I loved music and the excitement of making my own instrument overwhelmed me. Curiosity and excitement led me to drill a hole in the bottom of my parents’ only washtub basin, cut off the whisk-end of the broom, and connect them with a string. The resulting music sounded good to me…my parents disagreed. I ended up playing the blues in my room for a time.
All kidding aside, curiosity helps children learn. More importantly, a child finds the most pleasure in exploring when they can share that exploration with a parent. As a parent responds with supportive comments and shared excitement, their child gains pleasure, finds that learning is fun, and grows more confident in their ability to meet and conquer challenges. I love this table developed by Dr. Bruce Duncan Perry, MD, PhD, that shows curiosity ultimately leads to greater confidence and more exploration. Limit their curiosity and you ultimately limit their mastery, confidence, and even sense of security.
Curiosity
results in
Exploration
results in
Discovery
Discovery
results in
Pleasure
results in
Repetition
Repetition
results in
Mastery
results in
New Skills
New Skills
results in
Confidence
results in
Self Esteem
Self Esteem
results in
Sense of Security
results in
More Exploration
Children are curious, but they are also immature and inexperienced. As family shepherds, we have to watch them and protect them while encouraging appropriate exploration. That demands that we accept their curiosity and their immaturity as natural. We need not yell and scream at them for immaturity. No, immaturity calls us to teach them. Their immaturity invites us to be present with them in their curiosity, invest our time in their exploration, and share in the excitement of their discovery. By remaining present with them in their curiosity, we can address any concerns that might arise. When they become disruptive, our presence will teach them how to explore in a more appropriate manner. Investing our time in their exploration allows us to help channel that exploration in appropriate venues. We can teach them that the library is not the place to explore sound, but the music room is…late at night is not the best time to practice rock riffs on the electric guitar, but early evening is…the house is not the best place to explore the properties of flying water, but the yard is. By sharing in their excitement we teach them that exploration is valuable, learning is fun, and discovery is good. A parent who shares in the excitement of their child’s discovery will find ways to promote exploration and curiosity rather than saying “don’t touch,” “don’t climb,” “don’t take that apart,” “don’t get dirty.” That may mean setting some boundaries around the curiosity. For instance, letting your child know that playing in the mud may be fun, but they have to change clothes before stomping through the living room…playing with the condensation on the window is interesting, but they will need to help clean the fingerprints off the window when all is said and done. And, while they help you clean up, you have the opportunity to talk about the exciting discoveries made during play.
Enjoy your children’s curiosity. Nurture and participate in their exploration. Celebrate their discoveries. They will grow in wisdom and confidence. Most importantly, you will both enjoy a deeper and more intimate connection as you explore your child’s curiosity together.

2 Parenting Essentials

To state the obvious, parents play a crucial role in their children’s lives. They serve their children as teachers, chefs, administrative assistants, launderer, house cleaner, transportation manager, moral conscience, landscaper, mentor, and trainer of all these areas as well. I’m sure we could add to this list of parenting jobs. However, we can reduce many parenting roles into two jobs: meeting our children’s needs and allowing them to take risks. Let me explain a little more.


Parents strive to meet their children’s every need—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Notice, though, that parents meet their children’s needs, not their every want and desire. For example, these items are wants and desires, not needs (children can live without them):
·         A cell phone
·         A TV in the bedroom
·         The most recent fad in tennis shoes, hairstyles, or clothing
·         A Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Gameboy, or any other hand-held gaming device
·         An Xbox, Wii, or other TV game device
·         Their favorite snack everyday
·         Rides everywhere and unearned cash in their pockets
·         To be constantly entertained
 
What does a child need? Children need parents to provide for their physical needs like food, shelter, and clothing. Parents may have to work long hours to provide for these physical needs; and, they probably spend many hours maintaining the home, shopping for food and clothes, repairing clothes, washing clothes, preparing food, and storing food. But, parents do not stop there. They also provide for their children’s emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. They invest in making a strong emotional connection with their children by spending time with them, playing with them, enjoying activities together, talking with them, etc. They also become a student of their children—learning about their interests, sensitivities, fears, and dreams. By learning about their children, parents build a stronger relationship with them. They also gain the knowledge necessary to effectively teach and discipline their children. This knowledge allows a parent to guide their children in values and beliefs that promote a healthy lifestyle. And, children respond best to discipline from a parent who knows them, has invested time in them, and has developed a strong relationship with them. Meeting our children’s needs builds trust, relationship, and security.
 
Parents also allow their children to take risks. When children have parents who meet their needs, they are free to explore the world around them. They trust that their parents will protect them. They have a sense that the world is a safe place. They want to explore and learn more about their world. Sometimes this exploration will create risk—risks like crossing the street for the first time, driving across the state alone, climbing up one branch higher in the tree, or deciding whether to study abroad for a semester in college. Sometimes, parents rush to protect their children from the possible threat or harm of exploration and risk. In this rush to protect, parents prevent exploration. By discouraging exploration and risk, they nurture fear and timidity. They rob their children of the opportunity to learn from their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. They stunt their children’s growing ability to make thinking ahead to consider the consequences, problem-solve, and make wise choices. They encourage children who “play it safe” rather than children who “step out in faith” and “enjoy the adventure.” 
 
Parents who encourage curious exploration and risk, on the other hand, nurture children who think ahead, consider the consequences of their actions, make better decisions, and practice effective problem-solving skills. These children become more mature, have a healthy sense of independence, and a greater willingness to seek out help when needed. So, go ahead…take the risk of letting your children take a risk.
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