Training Your Child for Success
Sometimes you meet people (of all ages) that are successful at everything they do. Whatever they touch, whatever they attempt, success is theirs. Others have to struggle and work much harder to achieve success, and yet others don't achieve success at all. What is it, that the "always successful" people have, that the others don't?
I often have conversations with children about their goals and objectives, and often I hear young children say to me, "I am not very smart", or "I don't think that I can achieve this." How did a young child get to this opinion of themselves, so early in life? A child that has low self esteem, stands the chance of failing. Self confidence, a "can do" approach - that's what we want our children to develop, so that they succeed in life.
It's a known saying, that whatever you think about yourself - is true. If you think that you can do - your are right. If you think that you can't - you are right! I like to say that a person is only worth what he thinks he is worth. In other words, if you think that you can achieve success in a project, you will do your best, but if you don't think you can, you will not even attempt it, and never find out if you would be successful at it or not.
So how do we instill a "can do" mentality in our children? This starts very early in life! Believe it or not, your baby, when trying to achieve his first achievements in life: turning over, smiling, sitting up, standing up, making the first steps, saying the first words, is already getting feedback from his environment, and especially from you. Throughout our child's growing up years, we provide feedback about who they are, and what they are worth. We can't help it, we teach them how we feel about these issues ourselves.
Most of us celebrate our baby's first steps, provide encouragement and support. But after the first year or two, we need to remember to go on and keep encouraging and supporting. I'd like to shed some light on this issue, by giving an example:
Ruth, who was a great mother, a unique and talented person, did not get support in her home. When she was growing up, her parents provided the best education to her brother, but did not bother to send Ruth to a good school and to college, because she was a girl, and she was supposed to get married and be supported by a husband. Ruth grew up, feeling inferior.
Like all parents, she could not help passing her attitude to her kids. But hers was a "loser's" attitude. I know that Ruth was not aware of the affect of what she was doing on her children, but she always compared her children to other kids, or other people, who always did better. For example, "Look at Michael, he is so talented and smart, always gets the best grades." "I wish I was a good a business person as Paul, he always manages his business wisely, but we are not that smart, and always make bad decisions and choices." In a very subtle way, almost not noticeable, she would react in a very surprised way, when her children achieved excellence in school. Edith came home one day, with an award, for being the best reader in her class. Yes, Ruth celebrated it, of course! She was very happy for Edith. But at the same time, she acted somewhat surprised! "You? How wonderful!" and Edith, as all smart children, also heard the subtle undertones, the unsaid words, "I would never expect it!" Edith grew up with the feeling that other people are better than her, and she is inferior.
If we want our children to be successful, we have to make sure we give them a very clear message: "You can do it." With everything we do, we must expect them to succeed. Never give your child the feeling that you doubt his ability. That you doubt that he will succeed. Listen to the way you talk to your child, and catch every sentence that could be interpreted as doubt. ASSUME success. If your child stumbled, and did not achieve the maximum success in an assignment - offer support. Don't criticize! Your child faces enough criticism in his everyday life, from peers, teachers...you want to offer support. Make sure your child knows that you are on his side, and most important - that you believe in him.
EXPECT SUCCESS! If you expect success, your child will learn to expect success too. Many parents (and teachers) are concerned about stressing a child out. So they don't encourage him to succeed, they accept mediocrity. I don't suggest putting stress on a child. I suggest encouraging a child to excel. Make clear to your child that it's possible to excel, and that he can succeed. Don't judge or criticize, just make it clear you know your child can succeed. If needed, assist your child and support.
COME FROM A PLACE OF POWER. This point is very hard to teach: come from a place of power, not from a place of a victim. Teach your child to take responsibility for the results. Your child can achieve success. The results depend on him. How do you teach that? Teaching a child that he is the one who determines what happens in his life, provides a feeling of control and power. Don't do what Ruth did: "We have such a bad luck, every time we invest in the stock market - the stock market crashes." This is a victim approach. If Ruth decided to take the risk of investing in the stock market, do her research and make her decisions, she needs to take responsibility and simply say: "I made a mistake, I need to learn from it." Teach your child that it's alright to make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Mistakes are simply feedback for us to learn what works and what doesn't. If your baby touched the stove and experienced the pain of burning his finger, provide comfort, and simply say "hot." Your child will learn the lesson. If your child comes home from school disappointed, because something did not go his way, first provide support and comfort, then help him draw the conclusion: what is he going to do differently the next time?
PERSISTENCE. Teach your child persistence. Encourage your child not to give up. This is not easy, so the technique I suggest for this is story telling. Story telling has a similar affect to hypnosis on children. Find children's books or stories about people who persisted, and achieved, despite adversity. These stories are very uplifting and motivating.
TECHNIQUES FOR SUCCESS:
- Visualization. This is a technique that helps with motivation. It is a known fact that successful athletes visualize themselves going through their routine in a perfect way, before they actually perform in a competition. Teach your child how to visualize his success. Children have active and strong imagination, and it is easy for them to visualize. You can "talk your child through" a visualization. The best time to do this is at the end of the day, when your child is ready to go to bed. You can plan the next day, talk about the assignments and ask your child to tell you how it will feel to perform the assignments with great success. This way you encourage your child to visualize his success, and it will motivate and encourage him. Ask your child to describe what he needs to do to succeed in detail, this will encourage your child to plan ahead, and visualize the steps he has to go through, in order to achieve success. Get into the habit of doing that. You will help your child tremendously.
- Affirmations. This is a technique that is used often for adults, too. It can be very helpful to your child. You can plan the affirmations and write them down. Affirmations can be very effective, and you can say them to your child. Take a few minutes each day, to sit and think what affirmations you want to use that day. Please don't think that you cannot apply this technique to babies. Babies understand so much more than we know, you can definitely start using this technique at an early age. What is your child working on? "You are very smart, and you are getting smarter every day," is a good affirmation on any day. It has shown that affirmations are more effective if said 3 times. So you can make sure that you say each affirmation 3 times.
Say affirmations always in a positive way, in the present tense. For example: "You are very strong and resilient." When your child is learning to ride a bike, or play a sport, you can say to him: "You have a great coordination, and your coordination is getting better every day." A very well known affirmation is, "Every day, in every way, you are getting better and better." Whatever your child is engaged with at the time, you can put together an affirmation that is appropriate, and say it to your child. If you can get the child to say it to himself, or to repeat it, that is even better. Affirmations are a great tool to increase self esteem.