Want more self-reliant, responsible kids? Try Selbständigkeit, the German way.
The German practice of giving children more independence early on creates more resilient and responsible grownups, says this American mom. In Germany, as well as other economically advanced countries, children are raised with more freedom than American children.
When journalist Sara Zaske moved to Berlin with her family a few years ago, she noticed something different about German parents. They don't hover. They don't follow their kids on the playground or intervene when they fight. They let them go places on their own and play with knives and matches. Zaske was so struck by this cultural difference that she wrote a book about the six and a half years she spent raising her two kids there.
In "Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children," Zaske argues that the German practice of giving children more independence and responsibility early on fosters Selbständigkeit, or self-reliance, and creates more resilient and responsible grownups. Somewhat like Pamela Druckerman, author of "Bringing Up Bébé," Zaske believes that American parents should chill out a bit and not be so controlling, and their kids will still turn out just fine — maybe even better.
That sounds good, but is it true? Peg Oliveira, PhD, a developmental psychologist and the executive director of the Gesell Institute for Child Development in New Haven, CT, agrees that in Germany, as well as other economically advanced countries, children are raised with more freedom than American children, "and the benefits seem to come through for them — they're more self-reliant."
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