Success is a word that is even more difficult to define than it is to attain, yet parents want nothing more than for their children to achieve it. With each new step, parents wonder if they should clap or throw a party to encourage more steps to be taken, while at the same time worry if praise may be a factor causing their kids to fail.
So, what is the recipe for success, and how can parents make sure that their children have the best chance at being successful?
Children are naturally inquisitive. From asking why the sky is blue to why the next door neighbor has put on a few extra pounds, the questions are never-ending.
Don’t shush your kids when questions arise but encourage them to ask and to keep asking until they find the answer. This will teach them that the next answer is just another question away.
In fact, according to the biography, “I am Albert Einstein” by Grace Norwich, the famed scientist attributes much of his success to his parents who, unlike formal schooling at the time, encouraged him to ask questions. He would later give many famous quotes on the subject including, “I have no special talents. I am just passionately curious,” and “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Let them choose
So, you were a dancer in college and have waited your entire life to have a child who can carry on your legend. Or maybe you always wanted to become a pilot but more “practical” things got in the way, and now you want your child to be able to achieve what you were never able to.
Well, news flash. Just as you had dreams and desires when you were younger, so will they. Encourage your kids to find what it is that is uniquely them and what makes them want to get up and go in the morning. Doing so may actually take a load off your back because if they are motivated to be successful in their way, you may not need to spend your time and energy keeping them going.
Celebrate hard work
As a society, we tend to make a big hoopla over successes no matter the size. And for the most part, it feels good to celebrate the good and shame the not-so-good. But, when too much emphasis is on success, it makes it much harder to get up after failure.
In light of both successes and failures, celebrate the hard work that went into the game, concert, test, interview and so on. Focusing on success or failure, winning or losing can misplace your child’s feelings of worth. But teaching them that true success comes from picking yourself up, from “going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm,” as Winston Churchill once said, can teach endurance and grit through when things get hard.
Give them a hard place to land
The initial sting of failure hurts — as it should. Take a 2-year-old who climbs on the wobbly chair to get on the table, then ends up falling. If the floor were completely covered in padding or if you go to catch him before he hurts himself, he would continue taking the same way to the top without learning that it wasn’t working. But with a hard, painful landing, he will learn a lot quicker that he needs to find a better way if he wants to succeed.
Teach them that success is in the eye of the beholder
To you, success might mean money, and stuff you can buy with that money. For others, it might mean doing a job they love and that makes them happy no matter the salary. For some, success in life is not dependent on a job at all but on the time they have to spend with family. Success could also come from serving others, whether that be in a volunteer capacity or as a parent at home raising children.
By teaching your kids that their success can’t be defined by anyone else’s standards, they will find success in this life. And you will have done your job right, earning perhaps the greatest success of all: Seeing your kids grow up to be successfully happy adults.
This was brought to you by Robert J. DeBry and Associates.