Watch: Enlist children in their own upbringing

Watch this Ted Talk on ‘Agile programming’ for your family by Bruce Feiler, which adopts a flexible parenting technique in which children can pick their own punishments.

Modern family life is stressful and children seem aware of that as well. Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families and writer/presenter of miniseries Walking the Bible reveals that when Ellen Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute asked 1,000 children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?”, the kids’ number one wish was that their parents be less tired and less stressed.

The good news is that while the family system, over generations, has remained strong, most people do tend to feel overwhelmed.

In this Ted Talk, we are introduced to the parenting methods employed by the Starrs family, who were living in “complete chaos”. Feiler gives us their example to tell us about the merits of agile software programming, where flexibility is encouraged and kids get to pick their own punishments.

To tackle crazy mornings, the Starrs created a checklist, where each child ticks off chores as they make themselves breakfast, put dishes in the dishwasher, feed the pets, etc. it made for astonishing family dynamics, remarks Feiler.

He emphasises on the importance of empowering children and enlisting them in their own upbringing. He adds, “And by the way, research backs this up too. Children who plan their own goals, set weekly schedules, evaluate their own work build up their frontal cortex and take more control over their lives. The point is, we have to let our children succeed on their own terms, and yes, on occasion, fail on their own terms.”

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