What Makes Children Successful?
This is one topics I think about a lot. First of all how does one define success? What makes some children successful and others not so successful? Even within the same family there are kids who are extremely motivated and do exceedingly well. Then there are those who are not only unsuccessful but actually cause their parents a lot of pain and heartache. I wish I had all the answers. I’ve often wished for a blueprint of success for parents to follow but there is no such thing. Every child is different. One responds well to your method of parenting and another fights you at every turn. Here are a few ideas but I really do welcome your suggestions because making our teens successful ultimately gives us peace and joy, and makes us successful.
1. Rescuing our children at every turn
I was so moved by Loren’s video blog last week because I have been just such a mother at various stages in my children’s lives. You remember the little babies you held in your arms and all you want to do is protect them from all harm. But does doing so help them grow up and achieve their highest potential? It can be heartbreaking sometimes but letting our teens face the consequences of their actions teaches them the best life lessons they will ever learn. I’ve watched teens pick up the pieces and turn their lives around after making extremely poor choices. They had to pick themselves up, no one was going to do it for them. On the other hand, I’ve seen parents make excuse upon excuse for their children’s mistakes and bad behavior. They don’t realize that these teens go on to make bigger mistakes because they know a bail out is coming. We do our children a great disservice when we take away the opportunity for them to learn and grow from their mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is one of the best paths to success. I listened to a tape in which Sara Blakely the owner of Spanx talked about how her father always encouraged them “to make mistakes.” The idea was that if you were making a mistake that meant that you were trying and reaching outside your comfort zone. You can sit where you are most comfortable and achieve very little in life or you can reach for the stars, fall flat on your face, pick yourself up and try again. Failure and success go hand in hand. Let’s encourage our teens to excel by allowing them to learn from their mistakes.
2. Leaving a Legacy
I attended a conference once in which the speaker talked about what legacy we will leave our children and the world at large when we die. What lessons would we have taught our children? In fact did we even take the time to teach them anything at all? The bible says “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Some of us are so busy carting our children around from sports, to dance to various activities that we don’t even have time to interact with them. And then of course we have our jobs, and then we have to catch up on the news etc. Take the time to talk to and listen to your children. Pass down your family values. Of course it’s not all about what we say, it’s also what we do. Our teens learn more from how we conduct ourselves than from what we say to them.
One of the most important things we can teach our teen about success is goal setting. It’s simple. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. It’s important for us to set goals for ourselves and teach our teens to do the same. When you actually sit down to write your goals, it makes it more believable even to ourselves and more achievable. It does take time to do but the rewards are astronomical. Don’t you have a sense of accomplishment when you achieve a goal? This spurs you on to bigger and better things. As Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Teach your teens to write down their goals. Let them see it and believe and you will be amazed at how successful it will make them.
4. The role of Mentors
Every successful person values the role of mentors. A mentor for a child can be a parent, a teacher, a coach, someone in the field your child hopes to be in. Good friends can even be mentors for our teens. A mentor is someone who guides a less experienced person by modeling positive behaviors. A mentor, does not do your work for you or think for you. A mentor essentially guides you and helps you discover the best in yourself and helps you come up with your roadmap to follow. Some teens come from homes where there is no good adult role model, so mentoring programs like the “Big brother, Big sister” program helps these teens see a life outside of what they are used to. They see a bigger and different picture with the help of their mentors and realize they don’t have to follow the status quo. They can achieve great things and be successful. I love to attend graduations and see the first child to graduate from a family. This is big. This person now becomes a mentor and role model for younger siblings and to the community at large. Your teen does not have to reinvent the wheel. By being mentored, they learn so much that would otherwise have taken them years to acquire. We should seek and find healthy role models and mentors for our teens.
Making our teens successful can be very challenging but the rewards are great if we take the time to teach them and mentor them. Take the time to be a parent by teaching them your family values and passing down a great legacy. Don’t jump in to save them whenever they make a mistake or fail. Human beings develop strength of character of they go through adversity. They emerge on their other side stronger and wiser than they were before.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
Booker T. Washington.