Paper Example on Raising Children Who Think for Themselves

Published: 2023-01-31
Paper Example on Raising Children Who Think for Themselves
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Parenting Child development Developmental psychology
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1773 words
15 min read


This research paper is aimed at addressing questions relating to the growth of children and how they are raised. The questions responded to in this paper are derived from the book "Raising Children Who Think for Themselves" by Elisa Medhus. The responses to the questions will be supplemented with content from Berger's "Invitation to the Life-Span." To answer these questions, concepts, and theories from Berger's book will be incorporated. These concepts and theories will be sought to agree or disagree with or add more information to Medhus' propositions. The paper contains a brief overview of Medhus' book, the main body which makes a riposte to the assignment questions and a conclusion. The conclusion addresses questions assessing the reader's view and understanding of the two books.

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Overview of Elisa Medhus' Raising Children Who Think for Themselves

The book is divided into three sections; the basics, the game plan, and conclusions respectively. The first section introduces us to what the book is about, then highlights the five essential qualities of self-directed children and lightly elaborates the meaning of internal and external directions (Medhus, 2001).

In this section, Medhus starts by explaining that the way parents bring up their children is more of an external direction than internal. She mentions that children have been brought up to seek approval of their actions from other parties instead of being couched on how to bring out the best in themselves without worrying about their observers. Medhus explains that high self-esteem and self-confidence, competence, independence, having high moral character, and being an asset within a group are the five attributes that develop a child's sense of self and self-direction. The author also sheds light on subsequent stages of a child's development and asserts that such are stages at which parents should help their children realize and develop a strong sense of who they are and foster their internal growth (Medhus, 2001).

The second section of the book is the game plan. It presents to the reader the main content of the text - raising self-directed children. Here, Medhus expresses seven strategies that parents should employ to bring up their children in a way that allows them to think for themselves and behave a sense of self-direction. These are; creating a proper family environment, helping children create a healthy internal dialogue, helping children develop natural intuition, teaching children empathy, promoting children's internal direction through discipline, helping children spring back from their failures, and helping them handle real-world influences (Medhus, 2001).

Each of the above seven techniques revolves around developing and promoting children's internal and self-direction so that they can make their own decisions and do things on their own without reliance on approval from anyone else other than themselves. For example, Medhus presents techniques that can be used to create a healthy self-analysis in children. Such are; Use of questions, statement prompts, allowing them to make simple choices, et cetera (Medhus, 2001).

Medhus also teaches on empathy and benevolent selfishness and demarcates discipline and punishment in a bid to bring forth the essence of the former in nurturing self-direction in a child. In the sixth strategy, Medhus highlights ways in which children can be helped to come back to their feet after a failure. Her last strategy brings to attention the real-world challenges such as drugs, violence, sexuality issues, and perception of beauty, modern technology, and hurried life as variables affecting self-direction in children. The last section of the books singles out some child-rearing challenges and defines levels for teenagers (Medhus, 2001).

Question 1: Repression and Dominion

Repression is the act of making someone feel dispirited and hence not enough by complete. About children, this is a case whereby parents may make their children feel they are not enough in themselves, and they, therefore, need external support (Medhus, 2001). This denies children the chance to face events by themselves, express themselves fully, and hence, they end up lacking self-experience and determination. This inhibits their self-direction growth. Repression can be associated with permissive parenting.

Dominion refers to control and a sense of superiority and ownership of something. Sometimes children are led towards external directions by their parents. A lot of pressure is exerted onto them, and they are left with a narrow space to choose what to become. Parents should lead and direct children in fostering their self-direction by avoiding statements that instill guilt and shame in their children (Medhus, 2001). Authoritative or disciplinary parenting and dominion are correlational.

Berger supports that children should be allowed to explore things on their own. They should be allowed to go out and play with other kids. This will enhance the development of the child and build confidence in themselves (Berger, 2016). Berger explains that children need freedom and space to experience for better development. This implies ample environment and the provision of the necessary tools to play with. This way, children will be ready to learn new games from their peers, and this promotes their development. She further argues that children find exercising spaces around their neighborhood, in the schools, and during sports competitions.

Berger adds that a child's self-esteem is most probably promoted by playing with other children. Berger's assertions seem to go against the will of over-controlling parents and those who 'tie' their children inside the houses. She explains that today, parents insist that children stay indoors instead of letting them out to go and play (Berger, 2016). Realistically, denying children the freedom to play, experience, and face things by themselves hinders the development of their self-confidence and hence self-direction.

Question 2: Rewarding Children

According to Medhus, children should be when they do something [show of effort] and not when they achieve something [outcome]. Reward children even when they have not done their best but have put an effort. Medhus reasoning is that if children are rewarded for their achievement other than an effort, they will not have an inner conviction (internal influence) to do something regardless of whether they get praised or not and will instead do something just to be rewarded (external influence). I agree with Medhus' thinking. For instance, when I was in kindergarten, I would put a lot of effort to be top in my class not to feel good for myself, but to get the best price and have my parents, neighbors and even teachers talk of how bright I was.

Question 3: Natural Intuition

Natural Intuition is the case whereby one uses their inner feeling to determine their course of action. It means relying more on our instincts to evaluate events other than just relying on our conscious and logic reasoning. We need natural intuition to make informed decisions because, at times, the external environment may enforce the wrong logic into our thinking; hence, we end up making regrettable mistakes.

According to Berger (2016), the impact of natural intuition might deem less influential on the decisions that children make due to the effect of external factors. For instance, she posits that friendships grow more powerful and intimate during the middle childhood since that is when social cognition progresses in growth. These bonds draw their thinking and courses of action rendering intuition less effective.

Question 4: Teaching Children Empathy

Empathy can be inculcated into our children through various techniques. Children need to understand how benevolent selfishness works. We should help them differentiate it from selfishness and encourage them to engage in helping others. Role-playing and enhancing their use of internal dialogue is also another way of promoting the development of empathetic feelings in our children. By modeling to them through use of the "I message" and being empathetic to other people, they can develop sensitivity towards others. Lastly, we can avoid criticizing other people and enlighten them on empathy triad, thus help them to understand others (Medhus, 2001).

Empathy Triad entails happiness, the outlook at a given time and the inner strength. The Triad variables determine whether a child will react or respond to the situation. If a child is on a higher position after a combination of the three considerations, then he/she responds to the situation and sympathizes with the other child.

Question 5: Benevolent Selfishness

Benevolent selfishness relates to a situation whereby your self-interest is extended to understanding others' situation by putting yourself into their shoes and then acting to their aid so that they do not experience a situation that you would not want to experience yourself. It differs from selfishness in that the latter does not regard the feelings of others. In other words, benevolent self-interest has an element of empathy, while greed does not.

Question 6: Discipline vs. Punishment

Discipline is different from punishment in that while punishment is harsh and subduing, discipline is lenient and encouraging. An attempt at instilling discipline in a child might turn out to be a punishment if the process becomes more authoritative and controlling than direction and guidance (Medhus, 2001). Discipline should be deployed in a way that allows children an opportunity and space to reflect on their actions and is aimed at promoting good behavior and self-direction. Therefore, while disciplining children do not criticize, over-control, or judge them.

Berger points, however, argues that peers, community, and genetic contribution to a child take up the most substantial portion of a child's behavior compared to the impact of parenting. She further asserts that personal attributes and cerebral characters are influenced mostly by genes and non-shared environments (Berger, 2016). Children mostly spend more time with teachers, friends, and neighbors than they do with their parents. Therefore, they adapt much behavior from such environment and less from their parents, hence whether discipline or punishment, much may not be achieved.

Question 7: Encouraging Self-Direction

Medhus outlines eight techniques for encouraging self-direction. Use of questions is one of such ways. This involves posing a question to a child to allow them to ponder on it or describing a problem related to a child's mistake while pointing out specific information and then leave them to digest by themselves. Giving limited choices to a child other than telling them correctly what to do, use of humor, minimal words, a level system for teenagers, and self-directed timeouts can also aid in amplifying self-direction (Medhus, 2001).

These techniques may, however, not be effective given the impact they have on a child compared to the external influence. As Berger (2016) notices, children's concentration, self-esteem, and self-determination can be affected by ongoing psychological and psychosocial developments. For instance, as they grow older, children develop a stronger affinity to their peers and external environment than to their parents, and this reduces their internal direction. For instance, Berger postulates that children demand more privacy and secrecy in their adolescence. She specifies that at puberty, girls attract boys' attention, something that sometimes result in low self-esteem and depression.

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