Every parent wants their children to be successful. Our challenge is to provide a foundation of a life philosophy and life skills that allow our children to successfully navigate the inevitable challenges ahead.
Let’s help children develop their inherent good and to bring forth their positive creativity. These will forge their indomitable selves so as an adult they are not at the mercy of their desires or their environment.
A foundation for success has many qualities. Three main “builders” of a successful foundation are: 1. to embrace challenges, 2. to self-reflect and grow and 3. to know what to accept and what to change.
Builder 1 is the ability to embrace problems. Many spiritual leaders encourage us to see problems as opportunities for personal growth rather than to dread and avoid them. Your children will learn how to face challenges with confidence when you engage in effective problem solving with them. You teach them a success-minded foundation so they can say, “Come on problems. I can handle you.”
Builder 2 is to self-reflect and grow. This success quality means that all family members self-reflect and grow throughout life. Everyone takes responsibility to understand their part in a problem or conflict and is willing to change. Parents teach this viewpoint each time they admit that they have made mistakes and that they are looking for new solutions. Parents’ openness teaches children to accept mistakes and make amends, to forgive themselves and others and to ask for help. This deep emotional connection creates a success foundation of self-reflecting, taking responsibility and cooperatively working together to find solutions.
Builder 3 is to know what to accept and what to change. In particular, ask yourself what are your children’s strengths and age-based capabilities that can be developed? Also, what are their limitations to be accepted? You can learn skilled listening and empathetic responses to determine when to accept your child’s shortcomings and when to encourage change. Be careful of using supposedly encouraging comments that actually feel like criticism such as, “I know you could do that if you tried harder”. Perhaps your child has challenges with focus that no matter how hard they try, there is no change. Accept this reality and together creatively find new solutions to manage this challenge. Your unconditional acceptance is part of a foundation of success for life.
Along with builders of success, comes barriers that weaken the foundation and leave children feeling ill-equipped to handle life. Three main “barriers” are: 1. the fear of problems, 2. judgment and adultism and 3. a “do-it-alone” mentality.
Barrier 1 is the fear of problems. If an adult or child is afraid of problems, they will be afraid of life. Common beliefs that lead to fear and inaction are — I’m not good enough, I should have done something different, I always mess up, I don’t know what to do or this problem is too big for me to handle. Check your language to see if you are saying or inferring any of these statements about yourself or about your child.
Barrier 2 is judgment and adultism. Judgment leaves children feeling inadequate and often not lovable or capable. Adultism is a term coined by Stephen Glenn, Ph.D. and Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. in their book Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World. “Adultism occurs any time an adult forgets what it is like to be a child. Then the adult expects, demands and requires of the child, who has never been an adult, to think, act, understand, see and do things as an adult. These unrealistic expectations from adults produce impotence, frustration, hostility, and aggression in young people. …They destroy children’s beliefs in their own capabilities, their sense of their own significance, and their influence over events. Still, many of us commit adultisms with our children many times a day.”
Barrier 3 is the “do-it-alone” mentality. Adults, who believe that they know best and “should” parent on their own, teach their children close mindedness and alienate their children. The adults’ inflexible thinking makes it difficult for children to seek knowledge and grow.
If you were not given a foundation for success as a child, now is your opportunity to join your children in embracing problems, in self-reflecting and growing, and in understanding what to accept and what to change.
©2014 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, classes, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.