Excellence seems to become more difficult to achieve each day. Children today are expected to succeed in sports, music, academics, community service, and the list continues to grow. And parents engage in ever-demanding business pursuits in addition to juggling marital life and children’s busy schedule. For many, life is spent pursuing opulence and prestige. With such lofty goals, how are we to teach our children how to live, to love, to be and become who they are?
The secret in raising truly successful children (and being successful ourselves) lies not in the activities or careers we choose, but in the ways we choose to accomplish them. It is the way we act and react when we encounter failure, hurt, and victory. It is redefining success and prioritizing the teachable moments as we go through life. It's aspiring for more than external accomplishments. As a parent, I am constantly evaluating my priorities and looking for ways to draw them out of everyday life. Here are some of the ways I keep my focus on what really matters.
As a parent of young children, my kids are constantly being compared to their peers. Proud parents boast of their child's early potty training or ability to color in the lines. Uncertain parents survey their peers to see if their children are on par. With all this comparison, it's easy to think less of yourself as a parent or question your child's abilities. But taking the time to teach the more valuable lessons such loving, pursuing passions, perseverance and kindness pays off in the long run. Rather than get entrapped in the comparison game, take time to figure out what character traits you want to develop in yourself and your children and evaluate how your actions and activities move you closer to your goals.
As a culture we do not know how to handle failure. People tend view it as a treacherous villain or a great teacher. While there is much to be learned from failure it is also part of the natural course in life. Learning to embrace failure as a part of life’s journey may help the family to continue moving forward in a healthy manner rather than dwelling on past mistakes.
Focus on Who, Not What.
No resumé or list of accomplishments can accurately describe you. Why? You are so much more than the things you have done. Taking the time to develop the whole person will lead to a healthier, better you.
Train As You Go.
A retired teacher and I recently discussed parental involvement in education. She noted how most parents see academia as the segment of time we reserve for school or homework. Yet children who truly succeed are immersed in learning regardless of the activity. Training yourself and your family in things that matter is no different. Soccer practice may be the perfect place to applaud your child’s kindness while the car ride home may be a time to address how to handle loss.
Training children in excellence is more than learning how be the best. It’s learning orderliness – learning how to set, press toward and achieve goals. Your time and energy are very valuable! By taking the time to assess what is most important, order your activities, and choose your actions based on these priorities, you empower yourself and your children to achieve true success.