Underneath all the play and rowdiness, children secrete a motivation for self-improvement. The emphasis of self-improvement is on the self, yet, to succeed, children often need the assistance and involvement of their parents. While children explore their world and themselves, parents should find an ideal amount of involvement and stick with it.
Parental Involvement in Decision Making
Young children are not exactly logical animals. And while even older elementary school children may have decent decision-making skills, these skills are rarely as well thought-out as those of mom and dad. Thus, in many circumstances, parents should guide their children toward making good decisions. Yet, being too controlling does not enable children to learn those decision-making skills on their own. Sometimes, letting a child learn from her mistakes in decision making goes a long way. As children age, parents should become less like parents and more like guides or counselors.
Especially as a child nears the end of elementary school, self-identity becomes a key facet of life. Finding out who oneself is makes growing difficult, and it also makes being a parent of a growing child difficult. Regardless, parents should allow their children to explore themselves on their own. As Michael Riera says, a counselor and author of “Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers,” at one point in your child’s life you will be fired as manager and rehired as a consultant. Parents should start preparing for this day early, despite feelings to the contrary. While it might be tempting to ask your child about everything going on in his life, actually doing so might drive your child to be too reliant on the perceptions of mom and dad.
How to Be a Good Consultant
Imagining parents as consultants and children as clients works as an accurate analogy. Clients want to trust their consultants; consultants want to help their clients. In reality, the job of a parent is to teach children independence, and parents can do so by involving themselves, to an extent. But this extent should be focused: Parents should involve themselves in giving their children advice that helps their children reach their goals and to help their children set goals that merge well with the wishes of parents. In the elementary school years, children's goals tend to be about the fun activities they engage in with their friends, but parents usually wish for strong academic performance. As a parent, you have the power to command your child what to do and when to do it. But a better approach, an approach that teaches responsibility and willpower, is to work together with your child to compromise on the time spent on playing and the time spent on school.
Parental Involvement in School
Along with giving their children guidance in becoming an independent person, parents should give guidance that help children become independent students. While helping a child finish his assignment might get him a good grade, it won’t help him get good grades on his own. Brainstorming and encouragement, however, are beneficial types of parental involvement in schoolwork. If your child has the habit of coming to you for help with his homework, use brainstorming techniques to help him get started without directly helping him with the work. For example, if your child's English project is to write a short piece of fiction, you can ask him to come up with ideas, encouraging him throughout the story. In this way, it becomes "his" story, and the finished work is "his" work.