As parents, we shape our children'??s personality and guide and support them through life. This is no easy task as our role also includes helping them to find happiness and meaning out of life. At a recent book discussion of Redirect, The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change I sat down with author and renowned psychologist Timothy D. Wilson to discuss these topics related to parenting in this fascinating new book.
The book outlines studies and solutions to how we can become happier and improve our parenting skills, racial prejudice, and education. Throughout the book, Wilson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, outlines studies on how to develop an optimistic outlook through what Wilson calls '??story editing.'? This approach helps people to edit their life story with various writing exercises, which can help evaluate and change behavior that can lead to dramatic changes.
As no small feat we specifically discussed his chapter on parenting and how as parents were are responsible for shaping our kids story or narrative. Through story editing, Wilson says that parents should develop secure attachment narratives, have a positive attitude, strong values and a healthy view of the world. This begins at the start of a child'??s life, which Wilson says is the most important time for a parent and a child where they can bond, foster secure attachments, develop skills, learn how to listen and achieve goals '?? thus allowing them to thrive.
At the discussion Wilson mentioned that many approaches that seemingly focus on happiness'??including the self-help industry and programs that are supposed to discourage drug use, drinking, and teen pregnancy and violence'??are not effective. In fact, some of these programs like D.A.R.E., and the scared straight boot camp, actually didn'??t work '?? causing teens to be involved in more drug use and delinquency.
So what'??s the solution? Within parenting Wilson says as a parent you shouldn'??t go one way; being too strict or too lenient (especially with older children), but rather, we need to find that balance and use things like rewards and punishments lightly. Wilson states that if rewards are too strong it can undermine activities so he believes in minimal rewards and hard work. Wilson also focused on bringing children into the conversation, which allows them to engage and ask questions '?? thus forming their analytical skills and directing them to help them understand and cope with the world. He also mentions how children'??s narratives are vulnerable to change and one way to encourage a positive life, especially for teenagers, is to encourage them to be involved in volunteer work. This helps them to be a part of the community as well as connects them to people with similar interests.
As parents we have our work cut out for us, but it is interesting to read books like Redirect that focus on scientifically tested studies to show how we can all change and reinvent ourselves to create a happy and better life for our self and our children. Buy on Amazon $16.62
Serena Norr is a NYC-based writer/editor, soup-maker, and more importantly, a mama to two girls. You can read more soup recipes on her blog: seriouslysoupy.com.
MomTrends was not paid for this post. I was given a book to review.