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Dedicate a Decade™: Transforming Dependent Toddlers to Independent Teens

At four years of age, we dress, feed, protect and tie the shoelaces of a future.

In elementary school, our influence is to stabilize a child: we run along beside them with the expectation that soon the children will balance on their own.

In the teen years, our children fly from adult intervention. They hang out at the mall and not on us.

We expect them to move from our control to self-control in just ten years, but what have we done to teach it?

Four to Fourteen

Infancy is about bonding and attachment, putting roots down into good soil.

Toddlerhood is about separation from the mother— healthy individuation — the tendrils leaving the seed pod below and growing upward.

Pre-K through Elementary School is about gaining skills, identifying talents, literacy, friendships, responsibility and identity. It allows us to look over the fence and see healthy, individual, productive plants.

Middle School is the beginning of not only puberty, but a notable shift in brain functioning. Gratification, risk-taking and sexulaity centers are thriving, but, ironically, the part of the brain responsible for thoughtful planning, prioritizing, time management, risk assessment and reward deferral are shrinking. Weeds are taking over the garden.

Caring adults who take the time to care genuinely, provide feedback, redirect, help children to reflect thoughtfully, and teach planning and prioritization skills are essential to Middle School success. Yet in one school system, only seven percent of students said the felt connected to a teacher; in another, the school staff member that the teens felt most connected to was the janitor.

PreSchool to Middle School is the decade to begin the shift from Adult Control of what to eat, what to wear and what to do to the independence skills of Self Control, Self Confidence, Self Reliance, and Self Assurance.