Coaching Your Kids Toward Success
Part of parenting is helping our kids to stretch beyond their comfort zones and work toward goals. There's a fine line between an encouraging parent who helps a child do his best, and a stage parent who doesn't know when to quit. Below are some areas to consider when parenting your children toward success.
1. Understand that achievement doesn't always equal fulfillment. While it's momentarily exciting to win first place, there are countless adults in the world who have all the outward appearances of total success (wealth, power, fame, etc.) and are miserable. Helping our children understand that winning is great, but isn't everything, will help them maintain perspective on both success and failures now and in the future.
2. Learn to separate yourself from your child's experiences. Our children are on a constant roller coaster of fear, elation, anxiety and joy based upon whatever is happening in any given moment. Our job as parents is to keep two feet on the ground, and to provide level-headed wisdom and support—celebrating the successes and loving them through the disappointments. If we indulge every emotional urge we have, and if we get all bent out of shape about, say, who was chosen to pitch today's little league game, we're compromising our ability to parent effectively.
3. Give your kids balance. Just because your little girl has a knack for gymnastics, it doesn't mean she should spend 30 hours a week in the gym at age 6. Children—especially young children—need the opportunity to explore a variety of interests and develop a well-rounded sense of self. If a whole childhood is invested in one sport or activity, and that road comes to a sudden end due to injury or other factors, your child's identity may seem to have gone away with it. Resist the urge to go all out in one area until your child is old enough to understand what he or she will be giving up to pursue that passion.
4. Acknowledge that your interests and your child's interests may be very different. Just because you love tennis, it doesn't mean that your little girl does. And just because dad was the star quarterback, it doesn't naturally follow that junior will even want to play football. We, as parents, have had our turn. Our children deserve (within reason) to invest themselves in the things that bring them real joy. If you offer opportunities in your personal area of interest, but your child goes in a different direction—then you may just have to learn to love lacrosse.
5. Keep the focus on the life skills and character building that are derived from working hard and doing your best. If parents and children alike understand that these activities are about shaping kids attitudes and habits and—lest we forget—fun, the whole thing becomes less about the awards ceremony and more about the journey.
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