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Posted Feb 23 2009 10:15pm

And now a brief look at The Third Gateway to Happiness for Girls

The Third Gateway to Happiness for Girls is getting your needs met. For this 10 year old, in the best of all circumstances, she gets help with she needs, in school by a teacher who understands her, by her parents who help her learn how to negotiate hundreds of tasks and who reinforce her capacities, and by other people in her world who love or care for her and help her learn all sorts of things that she needs to learn at this age.

In other words she is thriving as she lives in an atmosphere that clearly helps her grow. For example, let’s say she wants to take piano lessons. Don’t forget, she loves art and music. Her parents find a way help her take lessons. That may mean  getting a  second-hand piano and enrolling her in group lessons if money is tight. It may mean a beautiful new piano and the best teacher in town. But whatever the circumstances, at least her needs are met minimally, if not to the max. This is important with kids, as kids don’t always have an endless window for a particular activity, interest or talent. If parents and schools fail to reinforce the child when she is ‘hot’ for dance or science or even  becoming a girl scout, the moment may pass and never come around again.

Looking at the consequences of not providing The Three Gatways to Happiness to Our Girls

What if the child doesn’t get enough of what she needs? What if she isn’t helped to feel good about herself? What if she isn’t bolstered in the ways that encourage her building a positive sense of her own life? What if she isn’t taught how to meet her needs? What if no one helps her meet her needs at the age appropriate times?

She might, for example,  be told things like, “You’re stupid,” or “You don’t have any talent,”  or “You didn’t inherit any of the good traits that Aunt Belinda has.”

And in terms of the narrative of her life, she might be given messages such as, “You’ll never make it.”  She might be told, “Don’t even try out for cheerleading.  You’re too clumsy.”  Or, “Don’t ever ask for those dance lessons again.  We can’t pay for them.”  And, of course, things could be even worse than that in terms of negative language.

Crippling can happen in the Third Gateway to Happiness also. “Play the piano? That’s for Sissies. Everyone in this family does sports.”

What does all this mean? Basically the message is simple. To thrive we need to be loved, cared for and listened as we grow up. Time is relevant as kids are always leaving one developmental stage and entering another. Each stage has a window of opportunity. Some windows come back, even if we miss them. Some don’t. So there are some basic rules of thumb when it comes to raising kids, that can be generalized from looking at ten year old girls:

  1. Teach them what they need to know without criticizing, belittling or namecalling.
  2. Listen to what they need to tell us about themselves, their interests, theirpassions, their wishes, their hopes. Hurt feelings are relevant, just as a teacher who may ignore a child’s efforts to be called on in class.
  3. Make sure their interests, talents, and potential are recognized in positiveways at home and beyond.
  4. Remember they are evolving. Piano lessons at 10 isn’t a clear indication of a future at Carnegie Hall. Still, treat all their positive interests with respect and hopefulness.
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