Dr. Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute, sent his three boys to Brant Lake Camp and has been a willing and generous advisor and sounding board to me over many years.
Reading his new book, The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety, reinforced the deep-seated confidence I already had about how beneficial camp is to the growth of children. Below are messages, advice, paraphrases and quotes that I gleaned from the book. Many of the suggestions in the book can easily be fostered by a top-quality sleepaway camp experience. Some of these, I think, are uniquely and especially addressed at Brant Lake Camp. – Richard B. Gersten
The job of a parent is to raise children who can eventually stand up on their own and be healthy and productive, “grow into adults who can function in the world, live independently, seek out their own happiness and know what they are good at.”
Parenting is a hard job- It’s okay to get a break by sending your child to something like sleepaway camp.
Negative tracking (only noticing what is wrong) and confirmation bias (believing you are always right) are harmful.
- Shoot for a 3:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism
- Be kind to Be Kind
Magic of Positive Reinforcement
- Meaningful praise is emotional sustenance for kids
- Specific language is better than general
- Praise behavior not accomplishment
- Every time a child demonstrates perseverance, expressiveness, compromise, hard work, notice it
- Criticism should be like a gentle nudge
- Catch your child being good
Use language they understand
Use a consistent tone
Ask about their interests
Give to Get
Praise the good
Active ignoring (“choose your battles”)
Recruit kids into conversation by appealing to their interests- something they feel confident about, best of all, something they feel smarter than you about.
Laughter is a medicine; smiling does make you feel slightly happier.
Never tease your child
If you want to raise future independent, competent adults who aren’t afraid to take on challenges, DO less for them as children. Support them with instruction, encourage them to try, but allow them to fail and then guide them to look at what happened so they don’t repeat mistakes
“You can’t put a Band-Aid on a social rejection or a failure experience. There is no instant fix when a twelve-year-old is suddenly cast out of her friend group… You can’t protect a child from the trials of life. But you can give your kid armor by teaching him to advocate for himself, and thereby develop the grit he needs to survive and succeed.”
THE GROWTH ZONE
- Maximal learning and growth happen in the area just outside the Comfort Zone, when the child is reaching and stretching to acquire new skills … just beyond their curingrent capacity, not too far from where they already are –> inspires kids to become independent problem solvers and self-motivated learners.
- It is important to understand that process- how we scaffold a child to work hard, be kind and compassionate, express himself- is more important than outcome.
Hovering within reach of our kids to help them when they face the slightest hurdle,
“helicopter parenting, concierge parenting, snowplow parenting- indicate a parent’s fear of failure and rejection for their child”–> Doing so is “swooping in” as opposed to SCAFFOLDING
“Playing the same game with the same coach and the same team was stifling her and blocking potential growth that might be found elsewhere”
“The greatest risk to an overprotected child is not a bruised elbow. It’s holding back her social and emotional development…”
- Brain is wired to seek out what’s new, what’s different
- Be consistent
- Consequences don’t have to hurt to work
- “What’s really going on when a teen slacks off is just developmentally appropriate, typical testing behavior”
- ‘You scaffold by rewarding good behavior and correcting bad behavior”
- An under 25 year old’s brain is not developed enough to make executive decisions and be appreciative of the consequences of their actions.