How do we as parents and educators best help our children to succeed? In psychologist Madeline Levine’s thought-provoking new book Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, she focuses on how adults can inadvertently contribute to a level of stress that inhibits children’s learning and risk taking. Levine describes the faulty logic that parents use when they push too hard for their children to succeed. As she explains, “As parents push kids to succeed—and try too hard to shield them from failure—their kids are soaking up the stress and increasingly unable to do anything without their parents’ input.” Instead, Levine suggests that we as adults let children find their own solutions when possible, that we encourage them in their interests rather than pushing them toward ours, that we steer them toward open-ended activities like reading and the arts to develop their creativity, and that we emphasize hard work and persistence, rather than innate gifts and intelligence, as the keys to success.
With the start of the school year just around the corner, I challenge you to reflect on the opportunities you give your child to explore new interests and problems. At Green Acres School, our teachers help students define success in a dynamic way, allowing students to take risks and providing opportunities for in-depth exploration. As parents, we are all likely guilty of at least some part of Levine’s faulty logic of over-parenting, so how do you plan on giving your child more room to succeed this school year?