Take the Time to Process
By Jeannette Webb
Perhaps one of the most valuable pursuits during the child-rearing years is the habit of taking the time to process the happenings of our days (and therefore our lives). We know intuitively that busyness has caused our existence to lose some of its richness, but now science is confirming that we cannot learn from our experiences unless there is down time to assimilate new knowledge.
I honestly believe that the exercise of debriefing was one of the key elements in helping my own two children become successful adults.
It began when they were small and we would talk about their experiences (or about why they got disciplined). I trained them to look at each incident to see what they could learn from it. I often shared with them my own personal debriefing after events and what I was gaining from it.
We began to function as a team trying to glean the most we could from each situation, helping each other along the way. This spirit of camaraderie was important as this type of activity can so easily degenerate into a parent being unduly harsh and critical of everything a child does. True debriefing includes much encouragement and commending our children on all the great things they do. The key is to work together to honestly assess situations and opportunities to learn all we can from them.
When my students got older and were in training for leadership projects, we debriefed after they made phone calls, taught classes, presided over meetings, spoke to a board of directors, or any point of contact with others:
- What did you learn from this experience?
- I really liked how you . . . .
- Did anything surprise you?
- How could you have said that better?
- What could you have done then?
- Why do you think they reacted that way?
- What will you do next time given that situation?
By understanding how to assess situations, people, and themselves, our children move one step closer to maturity. They learn to be honest with themselves and then take action steps to correct what they see. I encourage you to develop the habit of debriefing routinely with your children. Their survival may depend on it.
Jeannette Webb is founder of Aiming Higher Consultants, a firm dedicated to helping Christian students gain admission to great colleges. She has a heart for assisting parents as they train their children for excellence. Jeannette works to empower families to make thoguhtful choices for their younger children, to confidently navigate the difficult high school years, and then ace the college admissions process.
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