How to apply “Adlerian Psychology” to child rearing


With the popularity of the Japanese book “Kiwareru Yuuki”, the number of Japanese people interested in “Adlerian Psychology” has been increasing. Applying “Adlerian Psychology” to child rearing is said to improve a child’s performance. In this article, we will introduce some child-rearing methods that use “Adlerian Psychology”.

What is “Adlerian Psychology”?

“Adlerian Psychology” refers to the “personal psychology” method developed by the Australian psychiatrist and psychologist, Alfred Adler. In “Adlerian Psychology” the goal is more important than the reason and the present is more important than the past. Instead of thinking about why something has happened he encourages patients to use positive thinking and consider what they can do to change the situation. As stated earlier, this way of thinking can be applied to child rearing. “Disassociation of the issue” and its use in child-rearing Within “Adlerian Psychology”, effectively using “disassociation of the issue” will lead to improved grades and performance in school. “Disassociation of the issue” refers to determining whom the issue belongs to and disassociating oneself from the issue if it does not directly affect you.
For example, if a student who should be taking the college entrance exams doesn’t study at all, who will suffer? It is not the parents but the student who will be unable to attend college. Of course the parents will have wasted money on his/her schooling but it is the student him/herself that will be the most damaged because he or she will be unable to attend college.

In this case, if the “disassociation of the issue” is not clearly defined, will end up using phrases like “you will not pass the test if you do not study” or “you will not succeed in life if you don’t study” excessively. However, it is the student that should understand the importance of studying and when they really understand the risks of not studying they will be motivated to study on their own.
It is important for family members who are not the main player to disassociate him or herself from the issue and allow the main player to take his/her own action.

Understanding the difference between “not interfering” and “leaving it alone”

It is important to understand the “disassociation of the issue” and not intervene when possible. When parents want their child who dislikes studying to study, they often get angry and scream at them to study. However, instead of getting angry and trying to force them to study, it is often better to give them the time to think about why studying is important. Keep in mind, that “not interfering” is not the same as “leaving it alone”. When your child does not want to study, you should not ignore him/her and let them do what they want. Instead, parents should let them know that they are there to support them when they are ready to study. When trying to incorporate “Adlerian Psychology” into child rearing and education it is important to not interfere and not leave it alone.

We can see our child’s growth when they overcome their fear of mistakes

In “Adlerian Psychology”, failure is considered positive. When children feel that it is OK to fail at something or not like something they are more likely to challenge themselves. What is important is that they are able to pick themselves up after they fail at something. The foundation of “Adlerian Psychology” is that the goal is more important than the cause. If one is too scared of failure then the goal gets put on the back burner. Focusing on the goal will allow children to live a positive life. Many parents overprotect their children and do not let them make mistakes. However, according to Adler, people only grow because they make mistakes and fail. It is important that parents encourage their children to think positively and take challenges.

Children grow at a slow pace during which they develop their identity. So it is important that parents do not feel that their child’s problem is their own problem. Parents should give their children space to find their own solutions and the independence to make decisions on their own. Parents support is very important but the initiative should be taken by the child.

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