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Parenting Last Updated: May 27th, 2019 - 13:51:51


Raising a Successful Child
By Montcalm School
Mar 9, 2014, 18:09

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Raising a Successful Child: Connectedness, Continuity, Diversity and Opportunity

(ARA) - Advances in technology and medicine are putting us in a position to create a worldwide quality of life that just a few years ago, was only something to be imagined. At the same time, we are also overwhelmed, weary and worried about our children. As parents, we work long hours while quality time with our children gets shaved away at every turn. Our biggest concern is how we raise our children and whether they are being embraced and honored as the sacred beings that they are.
We know that every child deserves the chance for a happy, healthy and productive life and future. Likewise, every human being, adults and children alike, has needs that include but go beyond a safe environment, food and shelter. Everyone desires meaningful relationships, stability, respect and purpose in our lives.

Historically, our collective approach as a society has been to label children and identify and attack what we perceive as their deficits and so-called pathologies. It often seems easier to see what is wrong with children, rather than seek and understand what is right. But there is an approach for parents, teachers and others who closely interact with children that is radically different. It’s called the Strength-Based Treatment Model and it’s being used by some of the nation’s top child organizations.

“We have been using the strength-based approach to help children and it has been critical to our high success rate,” says Dr. Martin Mitchell, president and CEO of Starr Commonwealth, an organization that has been helping troubled children and their families for over 90 years. “The same tools that we use here to help children facing conflict can also be used by parents at home and by teachers in schools.”

The strength-based approach used by Starr Commonwealth and its private residential treatment program, Montcalm Schools, is based on four guiding principles critical to the success of all children; connectedness, continuity, dignity and opportunity (CCDO). Dr. Mitchell says these principles provide a framework for every child-care worker, teacher, parent and individual to make a difference in the lives of all children.

The first of these principles, or values, is connectedness. It is the drive to bond with other people and it is one of the most fundamental needs of children. “We all need to feel that someone is there for us, and we are a part of someone else’s life,” says John Weed, director of Montcalm School for Boys. “Young people need to know that their parents, teachers or peers genuinely care about them. When they are in conflict, children can have irrational beliefs that the adults in their lives don’t care about them. As adults, it is essential that we show them, in words and deeds, that we do.”

The second value, called continuity, is the reassurance a child gets when they are certain beyond any doubt that someone will always be there for them. “It is the forever in ‘I love you’ that tells a child that no argument can diminish your relationship with them and it makes that child feel a sense of continuous belonging,” says Dr. Mitchell. “Continuity in a child’s life means knowing they are part of a greater whole and they have an important role to play within it.”

But continuity also plays out in a child’s life through a bond with a higher power. Ken Ponds, chaplain for Montcalm School for Boys and Starr Commonwealth says nearly every child in conflict has a disconnect with spirituality. “Throughout the course of treatment, we look at the whole person,” Ponds says. “Spirituality is one component alongside education and treatment. Spiritual activities are a voluntary part of the process. While kids may not want to participate at first, we find that over time, they come to us seeking a spiritual connection. It gives them a peacefulness knowing that there’s someone greater than their peers to talk to.”

Another principle critical to providing success for children is dignity. Every child needs to intrinsically know that they are worth caring about. “You can reassure your children of their dignity by giving them responsibility to demonstrate the greatness that lies within them,” says Weed. “When they have the chance to make choices, to take leadership and to carry a task to completion, they learn about themselves.”

The last component of CCDO is opportunity. It is the drive in each child to succeed. While a child in conflict may not display their need to succeed outwardly, it is still inside them. “The moment of punishment can also be the ideal time for a parent to give,” says Weed. “It’s a way of tapping into their strengths at what seems to be your child’s ‘weakest’ time. At Montcalm Schools, and Starr Commonwealth, we don’t withhold interests in music, the arts or sports during conflict because that’s the time when it is most critical that a child understands they have gifts and opportunities to become a better person.”

Founded in 1913, Starr Commonwealth is a nationally and internationally recognized private, non-profit organization. Last year the organization served more than 5,000 children, families and professionals from locations in Albion, Battle Creek, and Detroit, Michigan as well as Columbus and Van Wert, Ohio. Services range from foster care to residential treatment and from in-home counseling to programs that help young adults learn to live independently. Starr recently launched a bold new initiative called No Disposable Kids, consisting of four multi-faceted training programs that help schools identify their strengths, analyze their weaknesses and utilize practical, prevention-oriented tools for creating safe and productive school environments.

For more information about Montcalm School or its parent organization, Starr Commonwealth, which has a 91-year history of changing the lives of troubled youth and their families, visit www.starr.org.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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