How do you raise well-behaved children?

Rapport. My wife and I would make a point whenever the boys were playing harmoniously of stopping what we were doing and joining in. When things started to get bumpy, we’d excuse ourselves. No admonishments, no commentary even. Pretty soon their play sessions were staying harmonious longer and longer as they tried to keep us engaged, not even knowing what the “game” was.

Travel and work. Starting the summer of age 12, they were all booted from the house and sent as apprentices somewhere… somewhere overseas by 14. Kids mature pronto when forced to rely on themselves and be accountable to other adults.

Our patient expectations for eventual success will pull a child through his difficulties.

Finally, I’d spent a day handing out promotional Frisbees for a store opening back in the day. Three-hundred mothers in a row droned, “What do you tell the nice man?” [blank look] “Thank you!” whereupon the kid would stammer out thank you without even looking at me. Long before kids I’d pledged never to be party to that farce. So, I’d simply say thank you on behalf of the boys. Soon, well before age 6, their own sense of autonomy would assert itself, and they’d beat me to the punch. So much less lame! – Charles Tips


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