Probably nothing is more influential in career success and life happiness than the ability to get along with other people. Any parent who has ever tried to get children to share a cake will know this is not always the easiest lesson to learn.
|Parenting And Relationships With Children|
"Reciprocators" are often happier people. The ability to work with others and to be considerate of their needs - that is, to reciprocate positive feelings - is an important predictor of life success as well as a source of resilience. Similarly, connectedness and a sense of belonging are the strongest antidotes we have to suicide, violence, and ongoing, problematic substance abuse.
It is our relationships with other people that give our lives meaning. An old Zulu saying puts this well: "People are people because of other people."
Teaching children to collaborate and to be sensitive to the needs of others requires them to develop an understanding of right and wrong. This requires parents to be assertively in charge of their families and to teach and keep teaching the one message that probably all the world's religions agree on: treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
Teach bright kids to control their competitiveness and to promote cooperation with other people. It is also useful to help bright kids distinguish between true and fair-weather friends. Fair-weather friends are people who are there for you when times are good but disappear when times are tough. There is nothing wrong or bad about fair-weather friends, but we become upset - and bright kids become especially upset - when we confuse one with the other. When someone they thought was a true friend turns out to be a fair-weather friend, bright kids can be tempted to use the full force of their personality against that person. Learning that fair-weather friends are not bad people is a very important lesson for bright kids. It means that their friendships can endure and survive the ups and downs of life.
As well as true and fair-weather friends, there is also another category of friends that some bright kids attract: foul-weather friends. Foul-weather friends are people who show a lot of interest in you in times of trouble and need, but as soon as you cheer up or are out of difficulty, they don't want to know you. Help your bright kid understand that there are different types of friends. Share stories of your own experiences. Help him to be aware that not every friendship lasts a lifetime.
Bright kids can sometimes overestimate how many friends other people have, and can then conclude that they themselves are unpopular. In my clinical practice, I often ask children how many really close friends they have; the average is about two.
Life is rarely a smooth and even journey for anyone. Most families divide into two debating teams: one team wants things to change, the other team wants things to stay the same. The first team says things like,
- "I want to go out more,"
- "I want more allowance," or
- "I don't want to be seen in public with you."
- "You're not old enough" or
- "It's a school night, so you can't go out."
With bright kids, the debating competition has some added spices and flavors. Even after using the change strategies, there will be ups, downs, and setbacks. Don't despair. There are some ideas for coping with the occasional setback, and also helps you steer your bright kid away from some of the major problems that could confront him or her. To find out more, you can check out Parenting And Relationships With Children.