Greg Warburton, counselor and author, believes strongly that kids and teens have great capacity to be self-reliant if given the opportunity. He shares here what he has observed, learned and encouraged.
Every Tuesday, Greg posts, through his website blog (link), an inspiring story about a self-reliant youth and their contribution to others. He also invites your questions and input on how we can best “set the life stage” for self-reliance building in all youth.
Ask yourself this question, as you consider if you are open to having your beliefs challenged:
What do I truly believe kids and teens are capable of in the arena of self-reliant action and contribution from the earliest ages?
In my most recent book, Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance, I explain how I hold an unshakable belief in the capabilities and wisdom of young people, knowing that they can indeed manifest their “I-am-a-one-of-a-kind-human-masterpiece” status!
A FIRST STEP
As a counselor, I strive to see that my work stays rooted in dignity, respect, and compassion. In turn, I’m frequently privileged to watch the process of self-directed change begin to take place in my office. As an example, consider the day when a 12-year-old said this to me:
I was sitting in church the other day and started thinking, if I don’t start acting different I’m going to have a miserable life.
That was a first step on a remarkable journey of self-empowerment for that child. I wish for you, also, a part in a inspiring and fulfilling adventure like this one.
Raising self-reliant children is more important than ever. Change and confusion are constants; there’s no doubt this modern world is increasingly difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, our culture provides little in the way of a tangible, practical, and comprehensive road map for the child traveler. Honestly, that was my mission with this book … to provide a kind of road map.
I had not been counseling long when I met a small, freckle-faced, nine-year-old girl named Rebecca. She did something during our first meeting that I will never forget, and I want to share her story as a way to introduce the power of these ideas.
To begin the conversation about the trouble at home, I said:
Rebecca, your mother is calling the trouble “crying and tantrums.” Is that what you call it or do you have a different name?
“I call it ‘having the fits,’” Rebecca said. From then on, we used Rebecca’s words to describe the trouble.
To gauge her willingness, I asked Rebecca:
Do you think having the fits has taken over your life, or do you think you can still fight against the fits?
In the next moment, only about ten minutes into our first meeting, Rebecca jumped out of her chair, stood up straight and announced:
I’ll just get rid of the fits and grow up!
Just as quickly as Rebecca had made up her mind, I began to get in her way with my doubt. I thought how my professors didn’t teach me about the possibility of change occurring quickly … and certainly not instantly!
I wondered how this nine-year-old girl had figured out what to do about her very troubling behavior within the first few minutes of our first meeting. I began asking her, in a variety of ways, if she was sure that this is all it would take for her life to be better. Within a few minutes, I could see that she was certain.
Fortunately for Rebecca, I had the good sense to stop asking her more questions and just be quiet.
Interactions like this launched my What Kids and Teens are Capable Of! blog-post series. Content also will be related to taking some pressure off parents, teachers and counselors by providing a box full of practical tools as they engage in the adventure of “creating” self-reliant youth that can contribute to the world all along the getting-on-with-growing-UP pathway.
It is my hope you will find this resource helpful and inspiring, and that you will tell others about it. ###
Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work, his book and the blog mentioned in this article, go to his website, selfreliantkids.com.