Every parent only wants the best for his or her child. We would like to see our children become a lot better than we ever were. We would want them to finish their studies and become successful in whatever field of endeavor that they may choose. We also would want our kids to stay out of trouble, not be associated with the wrong folks, and not engage in very risky behaviors that can undermine their future. We also would want them to do many amazing things when they grow up. Quite a tall order, actually.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a secret recipe for helping us parents set up our kids for a lifetime of success. The good news however, is that quite a number of researches in human psychology have already pointed out to a number of factors that can help predict whether kids will become successful or not. It clearly is not a foolproof prediction system but it does outline what we can do as parents for our children.
Here are some things we can all do to help set our children up for a lifetime of success.
Accept the fact that not all children are the same.
This should be self-explanatory. Unfortunately, many of us have this tendency to compare one child with the other one. For example, how many times have you heard about a mom saying how she’d wish her son were more like her other older son? Or perhaps the benchmate you have in the park saying how lovely the young girls are and how she’d wish her daughters were as lovely as they are?
The sad fact is that we tend to compare kids in pretty much the same way as we would like to compare ourselves to our friends. Yet here we are saying that it’s okay to be different simply because we are individuals. The sooner we accept the fact that every child is unique, the sooner we will be able to get down to the nitty gritty process of setting up our kids for a lifetime of success. We need to move beyond comparisons and try to focus on what our kids are passionate about. Then we can help them develop this and set them out for life.
Teach and enhance your kids’ social skills.
Unless your idea of success for your child is living in a deserted tropical island, then you need to teach him or her how to socially interact. In today’s highly competitive environment, it is essential for children to learn and master the intricate art of social discourse, social interaction, and the establishment of mutually beneficial social relationships.
Several studies have shown that young children who were able to learn their social skills when they were in kindergarten were necessarily more successful as grownups. They showed greater cooperation with their peers even without anyone prompting or telling them to do so. They are also more helpful towards others, are able to understand their feelings and thoughts a lot better, and are better at resolving their own problems on their own. Moreover, the same studies showed that children who learn social skills at a young age grow up to become more productive later in life.
Be authoritative, not authoritarian.
It is easy being authoritarian. You only need to impose your will and children will have to follow, whether they like it or not. Unfortunately, child development psychologists believe this is not the way to go. What is more important is for kids to get the correct motivation for what they are passionate about while at the same time receiving the correct and necessary fuel to help them get going.
It is in giving them the high expectations that children are motivated to excel. However, studies show that this should also be tempered with compassion and direction. It is one thing to rule children with an iron fist. It’s an entirely different matter to provide them the direction that they need in order to excel. Children may not know what excellence means but if we are to show them, then we must also be prepared to strike a balance between discipline and care.
Be a role model to your children.
Studies show that children of mothers who work outside the home tend to follow in their footsteps when they grow up. They tend to be career oriented, too. Likewise, children whose parents are out all day working invariably end up becoming more active in household chores such as washing the dishes, cleaning the house, watering the plants, and even doing the laundry. Studies show that the sense of responsibility of kids are exponentially increased among families who are working outside the home. However, there is a catch. In order for this to work, parents must also divide their time to teach their children about helping out at home especially in the performance of household chores.
Role modeling is one of the easiest and most practical ways to helping our kids become successful later in their lives. By role modeling, we are encouraging them to look at the things that we are doing in the hope that they will learn something from it. However, it relies on the preconceived notion that what we are showing them are inherently good; otherwise, we are teaching them the bad stuff and not the good ones that we would like them to imbibe.
Role modeling is a form of signaling to our children what are considered appropriate in terms of what we believe in, how we behave, the activities that we engage in, and the things that we do. It teaches our kids to become better persons.
Teach and develop your kids’ numerical skills.
One particular study revealed that children exposed to math early in life tended to have greater achievement in both reading and language. While this is quite remarkable owing to the disjunction between literature and mathematics, child development experts don’t necessarily think that the disparity is that immense. Numerical skills talk about ordering and patterns. These concepts are necessary in the formulation and development of more meaningful constructs as children grow older. These, in turn, become the basis for the enhancement of their problem solving skills, divergent thinking, and even counterfactual reasoning which can lead to the development of critical thinking skills.
Studies show that children who were exposed to number sets at a young age grew up to be more successful in integrating patterns of causality and of making analytical decisions. These are shown to be very important attributes in today’s very challenging workplace environment.
Develop and foster a healthy relationship with your kids.
Akin to teaching and developing the social skills of children, fostering a healthy relationship with your children is very important to helping them to become successful later in life. For many of us, we are, first and foremost, parents before we can be teachers and then finally as friends to our kids. However, child development psychologists believe that it is at all possible to roll these three roles into one such that we are all friend, parent, and teacher at the same time.
Developing a healthy relationship with our children simply means knowing who they are as individuals and not necessarily as our kids. The problem with looking at them as our children is that we tend to become overly protective. Looking at them as strangers and we tend to become neglectful. Looking at them as students may mean we have to give direction all the time. That is why it is very important to strike a balance between these three things so that we tend to look at our children as unique individuals.
Remember that our role as parents is to help them achieve their full potential; not what we would like them to have or experience.
Manage you own stresses before you attempt to care for your children.
We wouldn’t want to include this but we knew we had to. We’ve come across so many parents complaining about how difficult it is to raise children. For them, raising children is an arduous task. It’s an obligation that, if they only had their way, they wouldn’t want anything about it.
Many of these parents are obviously stressed out not only from the task of caring for their children but also from juggling family responsibilities and work requirements. These can surely drain even the well-meaning parent of his or her energy reserves that by the time he or she is ready to take care of his or her children, he or she will already be too exhausted to even pretend he or she relishes the company of kids.
Studies show that parents who are exhausted or frustrated can invariably transfer these negative emotional states to their children. So, if you want to see your kids become successful in life, then you must be able to manage your own stresses so you will have more time and energy to help kids achieve their full potential.
Focus on your child’s efforts, not on avoiding failure.
Teaching kids to focus on their efforts and not on avoiding failures is quite tricky. For example, we often find it a lot easier to tell our kids that they did good in their subjects simply because they are naturally gifted rather than saying that they did good because of the things they did that led to the resolution of the problem.
The first reaction teaches kids about having a fixed mindset and how being intelligent answers everything. But the sad truth of the matter is that not all children grow up to become intelligent. By saying that our kids are good because they are intelligent, we are teaching kids to believe in intelligence as a fixed standard. They don’t realize that there are a lot of aspects to the word “intelligence”. So, if they don’t do good, does that mean they are no longer intelligent?
On the other hand, by focusing on the process of arriving at the solution to a problem, we are helping children understand the step-by-step processes needed to solve issues. It does not necessarily mean that they have to be intelligent. They simply need to understand the concepts and patterns and this helps them exercise their cognitive abilities. In the real world, this is what sets highly successful people apart.
Recognize the fact that you’re not Wonder-Mom and that sometimes, you do need help.
Let us face it, we are not Super-Mom or Wonder-Dad who knows everything about how to take care of our kids. Even child psychologists can have a really bad day taking care of their own children. Even the most affluent families will have to be faced with the prospect of having to take care of a less-than-ideal child. The good thing is that we don’t have to be frazzled because there are plenty of resources out there that are intended to help us take care of our kids. The sooner we accept this reality, the sooner we can move on with our lives, and the better we become at preparing our kids for a lifetime of success.
Help your kids live in the present.
Spending too much time thinking about the past can be emotionally taxing especially for kids. That’s why it is important for us to teach our kids to live in the moment. Like Master Oogway’s teachings – yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift – that is why it is called present. Living in the present simply means not letting our kids to live in the past nor think well into the future. In other words, children should enjoy each moment and this can be best enhanced when shared with everyone in the family.
This is also true with us. We may be too engrossed in ensuring the future of our children that we no longer have time for them. The key is to live in the moment simply because we only become kids once in our lifetimes.
Setting our kids for a lifetime of success is not easy. However, with these tips, we are hopeful you are now more empowered to help your own child achieve his or her full potential.
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