parenting tip


Empower Your Child to Make Right Choices
By G. David Nassief

Empower Your Child to Make Right Choices
With this simple 10 minute solution

It has been said, ďThe three best ways to teach are by example, by example and by example.Ē Many parents have found that reading with their child about the lives of great heroes a wonderful way to teach them how to make right choices. Legends like George Washington, Babe Ruth and Thomas Edison can inspire a child to follow their good examples. Sometimes reading these types of books with a younger child can be easy and other times it can be a challenge to hold their interest or to find the time to do it. 

One day I stumbled onto a wonderful solution in the form of the most powerful motivational short stories of all time. These brief yet almost magical chronicles captured the attention of my son and encouraged him in ways nothing else does. But I didnít find these rare treasures in a bookstore, nor could I purchase them for any price. So where did I find these free gems?

One night my son asked me to read him a bedtime story when I was tucking him into bed. As I looked around his room for a book to read, I got the idea of reading from the journal of his life I had been keeping for several years. Because the demands for my time were always greater than the supply, I would only write in this journal for 10-minutes once a week. I read him one of the entries that took me about 10-minutes to write (and about one minute to read). 

To my amazement he was absolutely fascinated as he heard about this episode in his life. As soon as I was done, he started asking me questions about it and then said, ďDaddy read me another.Ē We must have read three or four entries that night and each one was as interesting to him as the first. After that evening, the journal became his favorite bedtime storybook. What I didnít realize at the time was the profound influence this journal would later have on my sonís life, and how it would better empower him to make the right choices. 

Sometimes as I made my 10-minute entry of an experience my son had that week, I would write about a right choice I observed him make. As we would read the journal stories together, we regularly came across stories of Adam making a right choice. This proved to be a powerful way to inspire him. 

Adam is the type of boy who is full of excitement for life. Sometimes all that excitement can lead him to be more competitive. And at times he can get frustrated when things donít work out as planned and can be too hard on himself. Here is a journal entry that is an example of Adam controlling his frustration and making a right choice. 

Dear Adam, April 15 (8yrs old)

Saturday at 10am, I took you to your Little League scrimmage game. You played your friend Zachís team, the Diamondbacks. You did a great job in the outfield and as pitcher, and you got some great hits when you were up at bat. One of the things that impressed me the most was the one time you struck out that game. When you struck out you didnít argue with the umpire or throw your bat down. You were calm and accepting of it. Even when you went back to the dugout you didnít utter a single word of complaint. You demonstrated excellent sportsmanship. You reminded me of a ďtrueĒ professional player. When we got home I told mom what happened and she was very impressed and happy.


There is a unique advantage to catching my son making a right choice and recording it in his journal. When we read this type of entry together, Adam becomes the hero who set the example by his actions. He is the protagonist making the right choice in his real-life story. And he understands itís something he is capable of doing, again. This transforms a simple entry into a wonderful tool to inspired Adam in some very effective ways. 

As with any important tool, an entry can be reused again just as powerfully when the need arises. The year after the above entry was made, Adam was in another season of Little League baseball. His team, the Tigers, was fortunate enough do well in the playoff games. The second to the last playoff game was particularly exciting and occasionally stressful. My wife, Mary, and I noticed that at times during that game, Adam let his frustrations manifest themselves in the form of being too hard on himself. I wanted to help my young son learn how to better control his frustrations in challenging situations, but I wasnít sure how. Then I got an idea. 

Two days before the final championship game I got Adamís journal out after dinner. I read the above entry to Adam and Mary. Then Mary and I very briefly commented on how impressed we were with how he handled himself in that situation. We also challenged him to follow that example in the championship game. 

Even though the Tigers didnít win that championship game, Mary and I felt Adam won a much more important game. He won control of his emotions and frustrations. There were significant improvements in choices he made during that game. 

Sometimes when we are reading the journal at bedtime, we come across the perfect story he needed to hear at that time. Then there are those times I purposely seek out an entry that fits a specific need. As a father, I am amazed at what a high return I am getting on my investment of only 10-minutes a week. I actually find myself looking forward to the weekly event of writing about an experience in my sonís life.

A childís ability to make right choices can effect their childhood and adulthood in some profound ways. Reading the biographies of heroes can be a great example for a child, but reading their own history about the times they made right choices adds a whole new dimension to this form of influence. 

I used to think that one-day when my son is an adult, this unique journal will probably be a priceless treasure for both of us. Then I realized I didnít have to wait until he became an adult; itís a priceless treasure now, one we both truly enjoy. 

Author G. David Nassief
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