The Strong Will- Is It a Bad Thing?

As The Playgarden hosts the LifeWays of North America's Teacher Certification, here for its third week of in depth childhood development, we look back at a very special community event. Esteemed LifeWays trainer and author, Mary O'Connell shared her infectious laugh and real word tips to help us find answers to some of those challenging childhood stages. Here Jamie Sheils, Playgarden parent gives us the inside scoop and shares here notes and take-aways.

On October 17, 2019 we had the pleasure of hosting Mary O’Connell presenting The Strong Will- Is It a Bad Thing? In case you missed this enlightening talk, I wanted to share some insights and actionable takeaways.

A negative connotation has been placed on the term “strong will”, meaning "difficult". Unless, of course, we’re speaking of Olympic athletes or world record breakers or the big world changers of our time. What about THEIR will? Wouldn’t you say they have a strong will, drive and determination? THIS is the strong will we want to create in our children; not difficulty but grit.

If a child cannot see their impact on the world around them do they even exist? Remember when we were young and gathered with neighborhood children to build forts? Or when we helped that turtle out of the ditch and into the pond? How about when grandma lived with us and we brought her breakfast each morning? We had purpose, we had space and we made impact. Today’s children are often only creating an impact online. Video games and television are all passive interaction, requiring zero will. It does unto you. There’s no thought or will involved. When we eliminate the ability for our children to impact the world around them, they lose purpose and, in turn, passion.

Do things with your children requiring will. Gently guide them to use their will to affect the world around them. Caring for others engages the will. Hard tasks engage the will. Volunteer, walk dogs, help grandparents, do yard work, build forts- indoors or out, learn to knit, climb trees, cook a meal, set the table, laundry, care for younger siblings…

Talk less, move more. Do not lecture or over explain any situation, young children are not capable of understanding all of your reasons. If we want the young child to do something specific- like pick up toys or clear their plate from the table- you must first engage in movement then they will follow. GET PHYSICAL with your children. Show them the movement and action you wish them to take.

We want our children to have healthy strong wills to accomplish many things as they grow – in relationships, academics, careers and challenges. This takes some will-adjusting and will-practice as children grow. This talk was a good start!

Want to learn more about this topic and so much more? Visit https://lifewaysnorthamerica.org/ for tips,

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