Guiding Kids to the Good Life

Last week we sent some thoughts about giving kids effective guidance to build their future. 

Through two decades of working with kids, I've learned that the good life isn't something you stumble into; it's something you intentionally cultivate. For most kids, though, their orientation and perspective are limited. They only see what's right in front of them.

  • Feeling hungry? Where's the food?
  • Feeling bored? Where's the iPad?
  • Sitting in class? How much longer until lunch?

Unfortunately, a short-term perspective isn't helpful for long-term success. True wisdom and maturity look like weighing your options, considering consequences, and making informed decisions. 

One key role parents and educators play is to help kids build a long-term perspective for their lives. We ask them to consider their future—where they're headed, what they will be doing when they get there, etc. Hopefully, thinking about their future will help them prioritize wise choices in the present moment. 

But that's harder than it seems. 

We hope and pray they will make the right choices at the right moments that will protect them from harm and lead them to a good path in life. Hope isn't a plan, though. 

That's where guided reflection comes in. Guided reflection is the key to helping kids develop the skills they will need to continuously become more self-aware throughout their lives and reorient to the right path when they get off track. 

Guided reflection is an active, two-way process. We ask thoughtful questions and listen intently. We mirror back what we hear and check for understanding. We give examples of our own answers to those questions to demonstrate what a proper response looks and sounds like. We affirm and celebrate insightful moments and personal realizations. We carry ourselves with curiosity and grace. In other words, we mentor kids to consider their future and become more self-aware and thoughtful about their lives and how they act throughout the day. We help them consider how they come across to others and what consequences their choices might have and explore alternative perspectives and courses of action. 

What questions and prompts have you found to be useful in guiding students to productive reflection?

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Do you know?

For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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