Senior Lecturer in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education
Raising Happy, High Achieving – and Moral – Kids
These days many of us as parents are very focused on our kids’ happiness and achievements. But this intense focus on happiness and achievement — and the constant praising of kids that goes with it — can imperil the development of kids’ moral capacities. What kinds of achievement pressure are constructive and what kinds are destructive? How can we raise children who are emotionally healthy, high achieving and moral — children who care about and take responsibility for others and think clearly about and pursue justice? Richard Weissbourd, Ph.D., a child and family psychologist on the faculty of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and Kennedy School of Government, has spent his career examining these issues in great detail. He is the author of the best-selling book The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well- Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development. In it, Dr. Weissbourd posits that too much parental focus on a child’s happiness and achievement has eroded adult moral mentorship of children and teens. He states: “The reason many children in this country continually lack vital moral qualities is that we have failed to come to grips with the fundamental reality that we bring our selves to the project of raising a moral child. That makes being a parent or mentor a profound moral test, and learning to raise children well a profound moral achievement.”
NOTE: Dr. Weissbourd also spoke at an additional event this visit, a BONUS EVENT FOR EDUCATORS, Thursday, October 24, 4:00 PM, “Promoting Moral Development in School . How can schools inspire and teach children to be moral — to care about and take responsibility for others, to think clearly about and pursue justice, to sacrifice for important principles? In this session, Dr. Weissbourd will look at concrete strategies that schools can use in an era of intense achievement pressure — to promote both morality and emotional resilience in students.