50 Ways to Bring Out Your Child’s Best

Joanne posted a list, written by Thomas Armstrong, of 50 ways to bring out a child’s best. It’s an interesting list. I’d like to comment on a few:

“2. Expose your child to a broad spectrum of experiences. They may activate latent talents. Don’t assume that he isn’t gifted in an area because he hasn’t shown an interest.” This one is often overlooked. Even if we believe that we’re born with our natural talents, sometimes it takes a while before we are mature enough or experienced enough for those talents to shine through. We never know when our kids will surprise us. And, it’s OK if a child doesn’t pick something up right away, even if it seems like a perfect fit for them. They aren’t yet ready.

“7. Have high expectations. But make them realistic.” I sort of agree with this, and I don’t. I think expectations, even “realistic” ones, can become our prison wardens. My goal is to reduce the number of expectations to the absolute minimum, and let my kids come up with their own expectations in their lives. Enough to keep them safe, feeling loved and to live together, but not expectations on who they should be, how they should be doing or whether they are living up to their potential. That’s for them to decide.

“10. Keep your own passion for learning alive. Your child will be influenced by your example.” Nothing else to say here. Probably one of the most important things on the list.

“23. Praise your child’s sense of responsibility at home when she completes assigned chores.” I don’t know about this. I prefer to thank our kids for thinking of the family when they do stuff around the house. Less of a responsibility and more of part of living with people you love and taking care of the the things that we have in the house. Chores aren’t done arbitrarily. Knowing why we do them and not feeling like love or any positive feeling depends on doing them. Instead, that it makes us feel connected as a family when we all pitch in. Nobody feels used or taken advantage of.

“37. Introduce your child to interesting and capable people.” Yes. Surrounding the family with interesting and capable people gives the kids lots of role models of success. Not JUST Ph.D.’s who make a million dollars. (wait, do any Ph.D’s make a million dollars?) But also people who live simple lives and are happy too. A wide variety of “interesting” and “capable” people, of all ages.

“50. Accept your child as he or she is.” And that’s the crux of it, isn’t it?

5 Responses to “50 Ways to Bring Out Your Child’s Best”

  1. Anna Says:

    On the expectations…..I watched my MIL usher two kids to the grave through lowered expectations. She expected nothing of them, and that is exactly what they delivered. There was no expectation that they learn anything; there was no expectation that participate in anything (in the family or in society in any useful way); there was no expectation that they would follow any rules. And that is how both of them lived.

    I believe that by setting a good example, some children can learn to set healthy expectations for themselves. For some kids, often depending on age, I think it needs to be spelled out. “I expect you to come home in 20 minutes” is a reasonable expectation for my five year old when he takes a bike ride.

    It is my experience that when you expect nothing of a child, that is exactly what you will get. Without meeting expectations, either in- or ex-trinsic, they cannot form any sort of sense of accomplishment. No sense of accomplishment? No self-worth, no reason to get up in the morning and participate in the larger world.

    I expect my children to be come full-functioning members of the world. I plan to give them all the tools they need to do that.

  2. celticmuse Says:


  3. celticmuse Says:

    Sorry about, my son Noah, didn’t realize it wasn’t my blog.

  4. tobeme Says:

    Love this list. All great and essential advice. Thanks so much for sharing.

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