As many of our children are returning (or have already returned!) to school in the coming weeks, I want to share seven strategies for developing capable children from the book “Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World” by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen. From their respective professional experiences as an educator and a counselor, they offer seven strategies to develop highly resilient and capable children. The first three items are what children need to experience and the last four are skills children need to develop.

  1. Strong perceptions of personal capabilities. “I am capable of facing problems and challenges and gaining strength and wisdom through experience.”
  2. Strong perceptions of significance. “My life has meaning and purpose, and I contribute in unique and meaningful ways.”
  3. Strong perceptions of personal influence over life. “I can influence what I do in life and am accountable for my actions and choices.”
  4. Strong intrapersonal skills. The ability to manage personal emotions through self-assessment, self-control, and self-discipline.
  5. Strong interpersonal skills. The ability to communicate, cooperate, negotiate, share, empathize, listen, and work effectively with people.
  6. Strong systemic (consequential) skills. The ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility, and integrity.
  7. Strong skills of judgment. The ability to make decisions based on moral and ethical principles, wisdom, and understanding.

Though this book was not written with any explicit faith commitments, where do you see alignment between your how your faith informs your parenting and these “significant seven?” Where does your faith offer correctives or add additional strategies?

I see a significant alignment between our faith and the second strategy. We certainly have wonderful opportunities to inculcate in our children a powerful sense of significance and belonging because of God’s creation and redemption. One strategy I would add to counter-balance the self-reliant aspects of these strategies is modeling “God-reliant” strategies such as prayer, worship, scripture study, fellowship, and service. May God bless all of us who are parents as we seek to raise our kids in “the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall