Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Is there such a thing as one sure way to raise kids that will become their own version of successful?
The consensus of the modern parenting guides is that the way to ensure your kids develop all the building blocks of success such as a positive attitude, motivation, a good work ethic and great self esteem and confidence is to simply model all of those attributes yourself. If you’re worried this won’t work you can also make sure you never raise your voice and always listen to their opinions, ideas and always consider their feelings. Oh and remember to apologise to your children when you do fail to be perfect
Now as any parent knows, our kids are simply little versions of us and will completely develop our habits and behaviours without question and the more attention we give them the naturally better behaved they will be. Showing your vulnerabilities and interacting with them as equals must help in developing your relationship with them – right?
What a load of crap!
I believe this type of thinking leads to extremely stressed parents who constantly feel like they are “failing” their kids each time they don’t manage to be perfect and extremely entitled and limitless kids that generally develop the absolute opposite of those attributes that can lead them to success.
Firstly, what kind of success am I talking about? I am talking about living a life of purpose, filling their days doing the things they love while developing and maintaining strong positive relationships with others. Whatever the “thing they love” is and whatever their “purpose” within that thing, these three activities are how I view a successful life and are certainly what I would like for my kids.
So what do we do when the modern advice just doesn’t seem to make any sense and the old ways are probably not suitable for today’s new world (and possibly illegal)?
My advice and actually something that has turned around the attitude and behaviours of my children from age 9 and 11 is to give them some credit for their own personal development and actively teach them about the building blocks of success.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was following the modern advice and my children were always “good” kids, they almost always used manners when they wanted something, were around new people, or they could tell I was at my limit, they were never in trouble at school and, as long as they were being entertained, we could take them out in public for family time. But, was that the best I could hope for? I was worried about how they could function in the world when their parents weren’t there making sure every situation they found themselves in was going to suit them so they can “be their best”.
So, bring on the success training!
This one change in the way I “taught” my children about the building blocks of success have them progressing from being entitled self-absorbed and frankly greedy peopled that almost always displayed reactive, over the top behaviours to people that are beginning to understand their role in the outcomes of their lives, how they impact others, how to identify the things they love and what they can do to make a positive difference for themselves and for others.
Yes, we still model the behaviours we would like them to have and the “actively” part of this teaching model gives them more quality time with me than they have ever had so we are still ticking the boxes of the modern child raising methods but, this way, the kids are also actively involved in their own development not just manipulated balls of clay that no longer need to use rebellion to show their understanding of the rules.
If I am sounding a bit preachy or sales-y, it is for good reason...
making this change has transformed our lives and I would love to share the details with anyone that will listen.
One of my favourite examples of change has come about from implementing a seemingly small task; Each night, the children write a list of three people they were kind to that day and some details of what they did that was kind.
Every morning I read the entries from the day before and we discuss the situations they described. When they began this process, the entries were things like “I was kind to mum by doing what I was told”. A fairly generic description and mostly about family members. In less than two weeks they were writing things like “I was kind to a little girl at school who couldn’t do up her shoelaces so I did them for her and also taught her how to do it herself”. This act of kindness shows an ability to identify someone in trouble and offer constructive help – something I always knew they were capable of but had little evidence it was there.
The benefits of this one task have been amazing;
The children are gaining a very good understanding of what it takes to be kind
Being kind is now a thought that comes to mind easily
They are constantly looking for ways to be kind
They are more aware of noticing the feelings of others around them
They get a confidence boost each morning when we go over their acts of kindness together
Each day starts positively with a review of the great things they did the day before
They get positive one-on-one attention from one of their parents each morning
Our mornings have gone from having attention seeking behaviour of delaying getting ready or fighting to just simply getting ready and shockingly, sometimes, it has actually happened, they offer me help or even help each other!!
I am not saying they are perfect, but our mornings have definitely improved! We now have mornings where I don’t raise my voice at all, mornings where chores are being completed without repeatedly being asked and it even feels like we have more time each morning even though we have added the process of reading and discussing their kindness stories.
Yes, it has been that good!
Teaching your kids about taking responsibility is the first step. Teach them how their actions contribute to their outcomes and your road to parenting a child that holds the key to success in their own hands is underway.