Raising well adjusted children is no easy task in today’s world.Being a psychologist who is affiliated with the secular humanistic Judaism, I attended services on the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah starts the holiday which ends ten days later on Yom Kippur. The time between these two holidays is designed for self-reflection on ones life and behaviors with the aim of continuing to grow and improve thoughts and deeds.
The leader of the Sunday school asked the children to think about their behaviors during the past year and write down and publicly share what they want to do better in the coming year. Responses ranged from doing better in cleaning up my room to fighting less with my brother or sister.
The point is, values were an important part of the children’s education and they were asked to reflect and share and to focus on idea of accepting responsibility for one’s actions and making efforts to do better. The leader thanked the kids for their contribution and the congregation applauded at the end; providing “reinforcement” for their efforts and indirectly providing motivation for this type of behavior in the future. This kind of guided self awareness is the type of exercise that is useful in raising well adjusted children.
Parents can provide similar experiences for their children at other holidays such as Thanksgiving. The emphasis parents put on teaching values is another key to raising well adjusted children.
Teaching self-awareness and the importance of setting goals for personal improvement is a vital part of raising well adjusted children. As a cognitive-behavioral psychologist and a humanist, these are the same skills I work on with children, adolescents and adults in my practice and teach parents how to incorporate these and other values in their home. Teaching values at an early age through the home, school and community is the best hope for a healthy and strong society.