While I think we can all agree there are certain things to learn from the great Tiger Mom controversy of '11, when we're actually dealing with our toddlers and big kids, we want to practice some non-permanently damaging parenting techniques. Yes?
Enter Kerry Kelly Novick & Jack Novick and their new parenting book, Emotional Muscle. With the subtitle, "Strong Parents, Strong Children" you may think you're getting another tough love parenting work-out. But these two psychoanalysts and psychologists, who started an award-winning pre-school in Michigan, are all about the soft touch. In fact, so much so that their focus on empathy flies in the face of the winning at all costs method of Amy Chua and her devotees.
Can you imagine what Chua might say to the goal of developing character, courage, satisfaction, and emotional strength?
The Novick's start with simple steps from birth through age five that will help arm your children with the skills they need to get along in society. Maybe not the skills they need to master Beethoven's 9th, but if that's what you're looking for refer back to Mom, Tiger.
While I say "simple" steps, the action one must take is arguably, not so simple. Because the key to raising children who are empathetic, resilient, and with good character is listening. Which we all know is not so simple when you're in the middle of a melt down when you're trying to get out the door, and are already late, and dammit why can't he just keep his jacket zipped!! (Especially interesting to me as I deal with a "terrible two" -- the section on assertiveness vs. aggression -- a must-read for every parent.)
Building your child's emotional muscle, like a physical muscle, requires small steps, over time. It's more about teaching parents how to develop these characteristics of their children, while giving us the tools to listen, and learn, ourselves. This book will not get the attention of Chua's Battle Hymn, but it should. At least if your goal is, like mine, to raise an empathetic child, even at the expense of academic and musical dominance.
Do you think raising a super achiever is more important than raising an empathetic kid?
Image via Build Emotional Muscle