Teach Your Children - Parenting For Authentic Success by Madeline Levine is an extremely helpful book on how parents can contend with the many complicated issues of raising children with the fewest problems possible.
The book is value-driven, with considerable discussion on the virtues of instilling how to cope early in the child-rearing process. In many ways, family life is a staging area for adulthood.
The book emphasizes four themes; the development of deep interests, self control, empathy for others and personal responsibility or accountability. The author cites important core values such as, reflection, generosity, responsibility, contribution to the community, relaxation, clear communication, adaptation and collaboration.
The idea of cultivating deep interests is explained at length by Levine. Deep interests encompass a wide range of experiences. Sometimes, children are disposed to opt out of activities where they lose interest. Parents need to model deep interests so that children will follow.
This means demonstrating interest in a hobby or mode of relaxation like sports participation. In addition, social interaction is needed for every child. Withdrawing from society is not an option.
Levine's coverage of self-control is extremely helpful for parents. At the top of the self-control pyramid is the idea that responsibility comes first before free time. This idea is very critical for academic success, as well as, career success. Parents need to develop strategies to handle routine disappointments, frustrations or failure. The author believes that tough conversations on these matters should start earlier rather than latter.
Next, children need to understand that privileges are earned from demonstrating responsible behavior. The book stresses that parents should never do for children what they need to do for themselves. i.e. make the bed Lastly, parents should never ignore evidence of bad behavior. Although, Levine stresses that parents should give children ample room to explore.
Levine explains how to engender excitement about learning. The example given by the author is learning an instrument like the organ, guitar, violin or flute. Going to a music school or conservatory develops "islands of competence" through repeated practice and iterative accomplishment. Musical instrument playing teaches deep concentration, the importance of practice, rule structures, feeling or empathy, self expression and individualized attention between the instructor and the student. Often, these elements are missing in school.
Teach Your Children is an excellent book for introducing new parents to the experience of child rearing. The author covers classic problems found in managing routine conflicts encountered at virtually every stage of child development. The presentation is easy to read and understand.