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Our latest parenting resource actually has a dual purpose. We liked it because it addresses the important topic of how parents must sometimes see past a child’s misgivings about an opportunity or experience and make a decision that goes against the child’s initial wishes. We also like it because it helps to answer one of the most frequently asked questions we hear in the office: “Should I sign up my child for a one or two week session?” Dr. Christine Carter, PHD of the Greater Good Science Center is the author of Raising Happiness and a frequent speaker and TV guest.
During our summer camp programs, our daily goal is to keep kids happy. That’s why we’re here. And, we recognize that achieving a sense of happiness doesn’t always mean instant gratification or easy satisfaction. Part of the reason we have a few mandatory elements to our program, outpost for example, is because we know that kids will often talk themselves out of opportunities that appear difficult or daunting and yet can be ultimately fulfilling and encourage happiness. Dr. Christine Carter appears in a podcast that discusses her experience sending her girls to sleepaway camp. It’s a short discussion but makes some excellent points about the camp experience and parenting overall. The highlights for me were the following:
Dr. Carter had her own great camp experience and as a result sought out a similar experience for her daughters who were not, at first, excited by the idea. We know from talking to our camp families that this is a common scenario. Dr. Carter persevered past her children’s doubts but had her own parental doubts, of course.
Dr. Carter insisted that her children try camp for the wide range of outdoor experiences she knew they would have.
She registered them for a two week session rather than one week for the first experience so they would have time to “adjust, really form friendships and get something out of it.”
She asked herself if she was comfortable with their level of discomfort because she valued the experience they could have.
Dr. Carter points out that the “harder parenting thing to do and the more skilled parenting thing to do” is to follow through on opportunities we feel would be good for our kids despite their misgivings.
Her daughter’s had a great time at camp!
Listen to the podcast and see what you think. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/happiness_matters_podcast/podcast/summercamp/
It is hard sometimes to look beyond our children’s initial fears or trepidation. Kennolyn offers challenging situations presented to children in a nurturing environment where failure is never ridiculed but instead celebrated as one of the steps to success. And when we as parents know an experience can ultimately be fulfilling, it’s the right parenting thing to do to engage our children in that experience.