How can we teach our children to think and act for themselves the “Finland way”?

2016.06.30

When How can we teach our children to think and act for themselves the “Finland way”? cannot seem to do something as you want, like cleaning up their room or interacting with their friends, parents have a tendency to scold them with phrases such as “do it like this not like that!” or “why did you do that?”.

However, when dealing with children under 5 years old, there is a large chance that they do not even understand why they performed a certain action, which makes this form of discipline ineffective.

In this article, we would like to introduce a way to encourage children to solve problems on their own without asking the reason for their actions – the Finland style of child-rearing.

The Finland style of child-rearing includes 3 steps and we would like to explain them one by one.

Step 1: Encourage your child to think of the appropriate action on his/her own

Instead of scolding him/her for doing something wrong, parents should encourage their child to think how they should act on his/her own. There are 2 ways to do this.

・Inquire directly

If children are at the age where they understand words, try to talk to them directly.
For example, if your child hits his friend when he is angry, adults should ask the child the following question, “Instead of hitting your friend, what should you do when your friend says something that irritates you?”

・Teach them visually

If your child does not yet understand words, you can teach them the same thing in a visual manner.
For example, if your child does not clean-up his/her toys, you can draw a picture of a clean room or set an example by starting to clean up the toys on your own and encourage him/her to help you.

The most important part of this step is to teach him/her how to act on his/her own when he/she is in trouble.
When a child does not clean-up his /her toys try using the above techniques to teach them that if they do not clean-up they will have a hard time finding the toys when they want to play with them later.
If you catch them when they want to solve the problem, they are more likely to move in the direction you want them to move in.

Step 2: Let them know that the people they love are rooting for them

The next step is to increase your child’s motivation by letting them know that the person they love most (mom, dad, grandpa, grandma) is rooting for them.

Children, just like adults, become more motivated if they know that the person they love is rooting for them.

So, try to say phrases like, “grandpa really wants ___chan to be able to do this” that will make the child happy.
Let’s make sure to let the person whose name you are using know beforehand.

Step 3: Congratulate them if they do the task correctly

Let’s celebrate our child’s accomplishments by doing an activity they like such as going to a restaurant or visiting the zoo.

To make them more motivated, it is also effective to let them know ahead of time that you will treat them to something they like when they are practicing the activity.

It is important to let your child know that everyone they love will be happy if they are able to accomplish the task.

In this article we introduced one type of “Finland style child-rearing”, how to encourage your child to think and act on their own. Please take these tips into consideration when raising your child to be an independent thinker.

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