Barbara Coloroso

There is one thing you and I as parents cannot do, not do we want to do if we really think about it, and that’s control our children’s will–that spirit that lets them be themselves apart from you and me. They are not ours to possess, control, manipulate, or even to make mind.

Odors from decaying food wafting through the air when the door is opened, colorful mold growing between a wet gym uniform and thedamp carpet underneath, and the complete supply of bath towels scattered throughout the bedroom can become wonderful opportunities to help your teenager learn once again that the art of living in a community requires compromise, negotiation, and consensus.

If we parents accept that problems are an essential part of life’s challenges, rather than reacting to every problem as if something has gone wrong with the universe that’s supposed to be perfect, we can demonstrate serenity and confidence in problem solving for our kids.By telling them that we know they have a problem and we know they can solve it, we can pass on a realistic attitude as well as empower our children with self-confidence and a sense of their own worth.

The greatest part of each day, each year, each lifetime is made up of small, seemingly insignificant moments. Those moments may becooking dinner…relaxing on the porch with your own thoughts after the kids are in bed, playing catch with a child before dinner, speaking out against a distasteful joke, driving to the recycling center with a week’s newspapers. But they are not insignificant, especially when these moments are models for kids.

I believe that if we are to survive as a planet, we must teach this next generation to handle their own conflicts assertively andnonviolently. If in their early years our children learn to listen to all sides of the story, use their heads and then their mouths, and come up with a plan and share, then, when they become our leaders, and some of them will, they will have the tools to handle global problems and conflict.

Every time a child organizes and completes a chore, spends some time alone without feeling lonely, loses herself in play for an hour, or refuses to go along with her peers in some activity she feels is wrong, she will be building meaning and a sense of worth for herself and harmony in her family.

Compliant children are very easily led when they are young, because they thrive on approval and pleasing adults. They are just aseasily led in their teen years, because they still seek the same two things: approval and the pleasing their peers. Strong-willed children are never easily led by anybody–not by you, but also not by their peers. So celebrate your child’s strength of will throughout the early years…and know that the independent thinking you are fostering will serve him well in the critical years to come.