A number of educational researches, started in 1960s and 1970s, were carried out with aim of showing relation between formal education, child’s home life and his success in life. Among the names of those who were trying to raise awareness that learning happens not only in the classroom but most importantly at home, was Dr. Dorothy Rich. Being an educator and a parent herself, she wrote a book MegaSkills that is bestseller for the past 30 years. In it she argues that there are 10 basic values that, although taught in school, are majorly reinforced at home and are achievement-enhancing skills. The ten Mega Skills include self-confidence, motivation, effort, responsibility, initiative, perseverance, caring, teamwork, common sense, problem-solving. The MegaSkills program uses everyday things and routine activities to teach children important values that will help them to cope with life’s challenges and hardship, will teach them strategies to achieve success in life. The book provides samples of age-appropriate exercises for various skills development. To boost self-confidence and self-efficiency the methodic takes children from learning to handle telephone calls, calling for help, etc and on to communicating with people. The book does not only promotes teaching children how to deal with life’s issues, but also give specific advices and precise targeted activities a parent can use to spend quality time with the children as well as prepare children for the life outside of parents’ care.
Another book that provides excellent information on teaching children to deal with adversity may seem a bit dated; however, the advice is still sound and relevant. The book was written in 1981 by Raymond Moore, PhD and his wife Dorothy Moore. Dr Moore’s later research and works were devoted largely to home schooling and became world’s foremost expert on home schooling. His philosophy became known in homeschooling circles as Moore Formula.
It is obvious that homeschooled children are often live in a protected environment and shielded from the adversities in life. They might develop academically; however, home educators should also pay special attention to child’s development and preparation for life out of home, facing problems that might be unfamiliar to the child. Home Grown Kids provides insights into children psychology starting from a newborn and to the age of ten or twelve, when the child’s character is fairly well developed. It is during these founding years that the parents have to help the child develop and control his attitudes, manners, speech, self-control and emotional stability. It is at this early age that the child learns the principle of substance abuse danger, healthy eating, money managing, solving rivalry problems etc. The main idea is that the parent explains the child the principle and discusses it, providing samples.
Another great author is a clinical psychologist and a pioneer in teaching communication skills and conflict resolution methods is Dr. Thomas Gordon, who was nominated for Nobel Prize and received various awards in recognition of his work. In 1962 he first introduced his program for educating parents, and the book Parent Effectiveness Training was published in 1970 and then revised and reprinted in 2000; after the next revision the program with workshop materials were revised in 2006. P.E.P touches on many issues with one of the foundation principle is not assuming parental responsibility for all the problem child experiencing but teaching him dealing with those. “All children will inevitably encounter problems in their lives, of all shapes and kinds…If parent hand them a packaged solutions, children remain dependent and fail to develop their own problem-solving skills. They’ll come to the parent every time they encounter a new problem.” The corner stone of the program is active listening. It is through listening that the communication between the parent and child can be established. It is through listening that can help get down to the real problem and developing self-responsible self. Real listening helps parent communicate to the child attitudes of support and encouragement. It means helping the child finding the solution to his problem not by assuming responsibility but by reassurance and unconditional love. Communication helps parent to get insight about themselves. Dr. Gordon provides various practical ways of establishing effective communication. An example of such techniques is using “I message” instead of a “you-message”, which helps reverse potentially conflicting and rebellious situation.
Another author that gives good insight into the issue of preparing children in “real” and not sheltered life is Wayne W. Dyer, PhD. The book with significant title What Do You Really Want For Your Children? gets to the core of reasoning behind argument weather children need to be sheltered or they have to be prepared to face adversity. Ultimately, all the parents want their children to grow into a happy, self-sufficient, capable and successful adult. The best way to teach a child is through the personal example. Also, Dr. Dyer emphasizes the importance of “becoming sensible about failure.” Failure is the greatest teacher, and teaching the child not to be afraid of risk-taking is crucial for child’s success. It is the best to encourage a child to face his fear and explore the unknown by talking it over and exploring future experience. Techniques that help children become self-reliant and free from stress and anxiety. Common sense and straight forward advices help children learn to enjoy life.
Another remarkable study was carried out by Dr. Haim Ginott, who was a clinical psychologist and child therapist. Working with troubled children, he was able to refine the combination of compassion and boundary setting, which meant strictness with unacceptable behavior and permissiveness with feelings. The core of the method is recognition that denying feelings only gets people and children more confused, while acknowledging them leads to problem solving. Again, alike to other researches, the communication with the children cannot be underestimated. Notably, Dr. Ginott gives a detailed evaluation of praise and criticism techniques, widely used by parents and educators. He argues that there are productive or destructive ways to praise and criticism, and provides specific examples and advices. He also talks about self-defeating patterns that are easy to fall into, such as sarcasm, unrealistic promises, approach “if-then”, provoked lies, etc.
Another interesting technique that helps children to cope with hard issues in life is described in the book by Doris Brett, who is a clinical psychologist. She suggests using storytelling for the therapeutic effect because it helps children to cope with difficult circumstances in their lives such as arriving of a new sibling, nightmares, fears, dealing with pains etc. This interesting technique require some getting used to and deep communication between parent and a child, however, it is proven to be efficient to instruct a child and empower him. She based her storytelling on the researches carries out previously that showed the power of psychotherapeutic metaphors. This method was later used and developed further in psychotherapy by Milton Erickson and then became one of the practices in Neuro-Linguistic programming. The next book, published by Doris Brett More Annie Stories was addressed more to parents than to children.
The literature review shows a common thread: child’s successful adaptation to life’s adversity and stresses and the ability to success largely depend on the child-parent communication. It is the skill that can be developed, practiced and resulted happy and well adjusted child, able to find solution to his problem, although with adult’s help, nevertheless, his own.