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Your Rules of the Road


By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.


We live in a complex and constantly changing environment. In my lifetime I have experienced rapid changes in the widely accepted, distinct and secure, cultural rules and norms. Having been raised with similar expectations in the educational, social and religious settings, there was not a lot of guesswork about what my parents, teachers and other adults wanted from my peers and me. 

In the 60s, as a member of a religious congregation, I began reading the works of radical theologians questioning things I had been taught in my Catholic home and school.  The religious order began changing some rules and the way we lived. The religious habit changed gradually to lay attire. The Vietnam War had stirred a massive polarization, questioning the government’s wisdom and decisions. With my fellow educators, we were introduced to new concepts of learning; the open classroom, individualized learning, and more humanistic growth experiences. My worldview and unquestioned beliefs were now called into question.

Institutions of society, government, education, and religion were questioned. Sexual and social behaviors, among others, were changing dramatically. “Question Authority” was the mantra of the day. In many ways this was an awakening of our individual authority and a new permissiveness.  

As an educator, then a counselor, I began to see different issues arising. How were we to behave or make decisions in this new, somewhat chaotic environment? Albert Bandura, a Canadian-American psychologist, developed a theory of self-regulation. He postulated that this process contained self-observation, judgment and self-response. As we assess our own thoughts and feelings we are informing and motivating ourselves toward goal setting and behavioral change. We may reward or punish ourselves to our personal or created standards. 

My thought was that the more democratic and freer the society is, the greater is the need for each person’s self-regulation and responsibility. Bandura expresses this well, “In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” He further states, “People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failure; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.”

As I continued my learning journey in my Ph.D. program at the Union Institute from the early to the mid-nineties, I developed a curriculum for elementary teachers I called Life Weaving Education. It is a curriculum for the twenty-first century teaching skills for responsible living, learning, decision-making and communication. Inspired by the people who pioneered these ideas I was hoping to give tools to people living in a highly diverse, open society. 

The guidelines for this problem-solving journey include:

  • Every problem is a learning journey with a gift I can discover for others and myself.

  • I can take all the time I need to calm my body and open my mind.

  • I can call on all the inner and outer resources I need.

  • I can achieve a positive outcome to any problem.

  • I am responsible for my life and solving the problems I experience.

  • I am responsible for all my thoughts, words and actions.

A very important part of this process is teaching emotional and behavioral resilience to 

children. Krissy Pozatek, in her book Brave Parenting: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children, refers to “life’s journey as a trail, a rocky path symbolizing all of the challenges we face in everyday life-struggles with family, with friends, with school, or with pursuits outside the home, or simply the difficulties of managing the fluctuation of thought and emotions.” She talks about a Buddhist story in which the sage tells us we can either lay down leather wherever we step or make our own moccasins to protect us from the sharp stones along our path. She suggests teaching children these internal resources; delayed gratification, problem solving, adaptability, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, internal motivation, self-discipline, and acceptance of impermanence to help them on their life path. 

Her book is a helpful explanation and guide for parents as they face their own need to grow, while assisting their children in this endeavor. Her approach gives us practical ways to help children develop the self-efficacy Dr. Bandura suggested we need to face adversities and succeed in life.

In dealing with our own inner child, that of other adults, or young people in our lives, I hope we can develop the sense of internal and external self-regulation, making the rules on our own rocky road. 


Evolving Magazine

Kansas City

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Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to


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