Independence (独立自主)

October’s Habit of Character focus was Independence (独立自主). In order to develop children’s independence, we must trust them. Sometimes they will make mistakes and experience challenges both socially and academically. Sometimes they will experience the impact of another student's mistake and be faced with a decision about how to respond. Do I hit back? Do I ask for help? Do I set a boundary? Each time a challenge is independently surmounted, a seed of courage and resilience is planted. When we listen with empathy and without trying to "fix it" we send the message "I believe you are strong and capable." Our kids need to hear us say that we believe they can figure it out.

As a progressive school, the very nature of our mission means we will seek opportunities to both empower and show restraint in intervening and solving problems for our children. In our setting, in order to develop our children's sense of efficacy and independence, a parent's job is to listen empathetically, ask the child how they might begin to address the problem independently, and step in if the child asks for help. Nine times out of ten a child will raise an issue just to let you know and to gain an understanding ear. Most times, they don't actually want you to do anything. A good rule of thumb is to wait to intervene the first time your child expresses an issue. You might ask, "Do you need help? Or did you just want me to know?" When a conflict does occur, and they DO want your help, encourage them to tackle it independently and with your love and support. Ask them, "How can I help you?" You'd be surprised at the wisdom they bring to the table.

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