September 2011 – Wisdom
The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment: the quality of being wise.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. ~Nelson Mandela
Be happy. It’s one way of being wise. ~Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucius
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. ~Thomas Jefferson
It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. ~Henry David Thoreau
In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it – thou art a fool. ~Lord Chesterfield
Teach your child how to make wise decisions
As children grow so do the number of choices they have to make. The choices will begin as soon as they start school and will continue to grow in complexity as your child matures. What does it take to make a choice? Making a choice takes a balance of self-confidence and the mental ability to think through the consequences of your decision. Therefore, teaching a child to make good choices will benefit them for years to come and will definitely set your child in the right direction.
Children should be eased into decision-making at an early age. Below is a breakdown of each age group and the suggested amount of choices that should or will be presented in their lives.
When children are in this age group it is a great time to introduce decision-making to your child, by offering simple daily choices to your child. Start in the morning by picking out two shirts for your child and ask them which one they would like to wear for the day. Throughout the day you can continue with small choices, “Would you like an apple or banana for a snack today? If they are unsure of which to pick, let them know it’s okay to take their time and just pick one; when you are giving your child a decision to make, be sure to allow them to make the choice—otherwise they may depend on you to make all their choices.
Once your children begin to understand making decisions for themselves, offer them choices that affect the entire family as well. Do you think we should have rice or potatoes for supper? Or which flowers should we plant in the front lawn, the white ones or the red ones? This gives your child the sense of family contribution and self-worth; their opinion is important to the family unit.
Main points to address:
- Encourage them to learn decision-making skills early. Would you like an apple or cheese for a snack today?
- Allow them to choose between only two different objects at a time (which of these shirts would you like to wear today?)
- Once they can make decisions for themselves, allow them to make decisions that affect the entire family.
As most parents know, teaching through example is a very good starting point to teaching our children the values we want to instill in them. Talking about good choices is your next best tool; explain to your child what a good decision is. A good decision is one that results in more good than harm, considers the feelings of others, is selfless, follows the rules, and is positive and beneficial.
At this stage of childhood, children will make a number of choices that we aren’t happy with or make us turn the other cheek and wonder if that was actually our child. Allow children to make these choices, good or bad, and when the choice comes up that is not so good this is the perfect opportunity to talk about choices with your child. “The choice you made to spit in the house was not an appropriate decision; let’s talk about choices and how they affect you and the people around you.”
Main points to address:
- Teach internal control. Ask questions instead of giving directions.
- Be a good example.
- Allow children to make mistakes. This teaches them how to handle their errors in the future.
- Be compassionate to your child.
It’s an essential feeling to know that you are needed or of importance. Normally we gain this understanding by the jobs we do and the positions we hold in society or our home life. It is also a very important feeling for children. This not only helps children to make the right decision when they have choices presented to them, but this ensures they will make the right choice. Think of how important we felt once we became parents, all our choices changed in the blink of an eye, because someone else needed us. This rings true for this age group as well. Give your child a responsibility that makes them feel they are making a difference, not simply taking out the trash, but something that makes them feel they are contributing something important. For example, taking care of the family pet, making sure the wild birds have food, etc.
Tell your children the truth about a variety of important issues, especially when they ask. Children that feel as though they are being mislead or lied to from their parents, they don’t feel as though they are important enough or not smart enough to handle the truth. Tell the truth about the effects of drugs and alcohol; one hit from certain drugs can kill you or make you addicted, which leads to worse things in your life, etc.
Encourage your child to form positive friendships, children are more than 50% likely to make the same choices their closest friends make; therefore the friends they have and the choices their friends make will make a huge difference in your child’s decision making.
One other very important step is to talk to your children about the affects of negative choices and the affects of positive choices: “If Oprah Winfrey never made the choice to go to college she may not be the highest paid woman in television history.” The more open you are now with your children, the better and stronger the lines of communication can be when they get to an age where peer pressure, bad choices and the negativity of the teenage years will be in abundance.
Main points to address:
- Give them a responsibility. It helps to show that they can do something of importance and helps promote self-discipline.
- Establish boundaries.
- Tell them the truth about drugs and other harmful substances that might be a part of their choice making sometime in the future.
- Help them choose positive friendships.
Books to share with Children
Read books that illustrate and encourage being Wise. Check your library for some of those listed here. Each one provides opportunities to discuss the results of wisdom:
- Old Turtle by Douglas Wood and Cheng-Khee Chee
- Ruby Lee The Bumble Bee: A Bee’s Bit Of Wisdom by Dawn Matheson
- The Gift: A Magical Story about Caring for the Earth by Isia Osuchowska
- The Pooh Book of Quotations by Brian Sibley
- Solomon the Supersonic Salamander: Choosing Good Friends (The Wisdom Series, No 1) by Ernie Rettino
- Three Wise Birds: A Story About Wisdom and Leadership by Dharma Publishing