Monday, July 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: How to Raise Active, Not Passive Children

How to Raise Active, Not Passive Children
Passivity in children is often seen in a clinical setting, as it is often a symptom of an emotional problem. Some children that have depression or anxiety are very passive and they withdraw and do not cope well with their own pain. As teenagers, passive children often use drugs or alcohol to deal with their issues. How do we as parents raise children that are active participants in their own life and destiny as well as children that have strength in their convictions. Passivity is not necessarily a bad thing, however passive children are often very entitled and feel that their parents and those around them should “wait” on them and do everything for them. Passive children feel that by simply being born and being a child or teenager that they deserve to have others do everything for them. Do not fall into this trap parents! Here are the ways we can develop an active child instead of a passive child:

1.) Take an active role in your child’s life. Make your child do things for themselves. If you are a parent that has been used to do everything for your child while they do very little, they are certainly going to fight you in the beginning.

2.) Be a good role model for them. Our lives as parents are not centered around our children to the exclusion of everything else in our lives. Life is about a balance between our children, families, work, friendships, health. The parent that centers their entire existence around their children is influencing their children to think that life is about only being a parent or that you as a parent will be serving and catering to them forever. The healthiest parents are those that have relationships of their own that don’t involve their children. Take up your own interests and you as a parent will be healthier and you will have a better relationship with your child.

3.) Don’t avoid setting limits with your child. Remember, passive children just sit and let everyone do everything for them. Discuss problems with your child and do not avoid conflict with them, just because you don’t want them “to like you.” We are not our children’s friends, we are their parents. We must set limits in all areas and give them responsibilities if we are going to move them towards personal growth and autonomy.

4.) Children by their very nature will let you as a parent do everything for them. Parents tend to want to try to “fix” everything and “do things” for their children to the exclusion of having their children do very little for themselves. I have seen so many exhausted; harried parents that are running around doing everything for their children, meanwhile their children have no household chores and have no responsibilities. Wrong! If you do all of the work for your child, then it is your fault that they have not learned how to be responsible. Start by saying to your child, “I am sorry, but cleaning up your room is your responsiblity.” Or, “Sorry I am late again, what are you going to get me for dinner?” Your response of course will be, “you know when you are supposed to be home, now you have to get yourself something to eat.” Do not wait on your child, as you just reinforced their being late coming home.

Help your child take initiative to solve their own problems and be responsible in their actions and choices and you will have a child that matures and has personal strength. When parents are overly active in doing everything for their children, the child then becomes overly passive and expects everything to be done for them including someone solving their problems. The key to raising strong; healthy children is to teach them to be responsible and to be active participants in their life. Remember passive children often avoid relationships in general as they do not have enough strength of character to take the initiative in a relationship or they are fearful of doing things on their own.