Raising Independent Children
By Gary Krahn, Ph.D., head of school
Parents and educators play a critical role in shaping an effective learning environment for children. At LJCDS, parents bring us their child(ren) of character who is willing to work hard, and in return, the school promises to provide access to remarkable mentors and resources in a “what if” environment that offers the child the greatest opportunity for success in life.
The partnership between parents and LJCDS is an important aspect of our school experience. The art and science of developing the entire child are empty without the love we have for our children. As young children transition into young adults, they are learning how to effectively manage their whole self—mental and physical wellness, academics, and other life tasks.
Growing up is about the development of a new level of personal responsibility. Parents and educators supervise and manage these matters throughout a child’s adolescence, knowing that at some point the child must manage these responsibilities on their own.
Mark McConville, a clinical psychologist, and the author of the book Adolescence: Psychotherapy and the Emergent Self, states that an Upper School C student who can manage their own lives has a better chance of succeeding in college and in life than an A or B student who is dependent on adult oversight. There is no canonical timeline or perfect process for helping students become more independent. The pace and glide path for a child to assume greater responsibility is unique for each individual.
Being transparent is an effective tool for developing a responsible child. Share your mistakes with your child and discuss that we all make mistakes. Taking ownership of those mistakes shows responsibility. Explain that covering up mistakes reveals that one is not ready to manage greater responsibilities.
We often look back and judge ourselves as a parent and educator. I ask you to be mindful of hindsight biases—the tendency to see events as being predictable. Daniel Kahneman, the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic science, explains that vignettes about how to best raise children can be so good that they create an illusion that life is understandable and predictable. That's an illusion.
Hindsight creates the illusion that we can know exactly how to address the next issue a child may face. Raising a child is complex, and there will always be uncertainty on the number of extra activities, the amount of screen time, or how much responsibility should a child assume. Each day brings unique challenges and opportunities.
Thank you for trusting LJCDS as a loving and informed partner to provide your child with the greatest opportunity to achieve greatness.