Tiger Woods, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Oprah Winfrey and Venus and Serena Williams are born in an American society where well over forty percent of prison inmates and students in special education share their ethnic background. Many researchers would argue that because of their race or ethnic background they would confront additional psychological and economical obstacles than non-minorities that would make it extremely difficult for them to be successful.
Regardless of their chosen profession, what Tiger Woods, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Oprah Winfrey and Venus and Serena Williams have in common is not their race, money or level of education; what they have in common is good old fashioned, down-to-earth, excellent parenting. Most parents would like to believe that there is some type of magic in raising successful children because it relieves them from the guilt of not giving their children the proper spiritual, psychological, and emotional skills that they need to be successful in life. What do Beethoven, Thomas Edison, and Sigmund Freud have in common with Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Venus and Serena Williams and Dr. Benjamin Carson? You guessed it! Excellent parents. Quality parenting has nothing to do with whether or not a child is raised in a two-parent or single-parent home; what matters the most is the parent’s ability to instill in their child an impervious sense of self-worth, self-respect and self-love.
Listed below are the secrets to raising extraordinarily successful children:
Model appropriate behavior
1. Model the behavior that you expect from your child. Many parents believe that it is okay to tell their children, “do as I say and not as I do.” Studies show that if the parent smokes, there is a high chance that the child will also smoke. Don’t tell your children to read, when they have never seen you pick up a book. Don’t ask your children to clean their bedroom when your bedroom is a mess. I worked in the child welfare system for 13 years helping to reunite families. One of the most important lessons that I learned from working with parents whose children were removed from their home due to neglect and/or abuse is that even when parents didn’t think their children knew that they were using illegal drugs, drinking excessively, or having multiple sex partners; during family counseling sessions, the parents were surprised to learn that their children were always aware of their behavior and viewed them as hypocrites and liars. Do and be all of the things that you want your children to do and be.
Give them Self-esteem
2. Children see themselves through their parent’s eyes. When you smile at them they feel loved and accepted. Children are constantly looking into your eyes for approval and validation of their self-worth. Babies are capable of detecting their parent’s emotions that even the parent is not aware that they are emitting such as anger, guilt and sadness. If the parent refers to the child as dumb, stupid, or clumsy this is how the child will perceive herself. Do not call your child derogatory names because this becomes a part of their psychological dictionary of their self concept. Tell your child how wonderful, smart and intelligent he is. Tell her that it is okay to make mistakes and let them try again. Let the child help you make rules and consequences for breaking them for the home. Give them chores. Children, like adults, feel good about themselves when they feel that they are contributing to their own well-being to the best of their ability.
3. Teaching a child to control their own behavior in spite of their moods or feelings is the greatest gift that a parent can give their child. Self-discipline will give the child the confidence to excel in every area of their life. Self-discipline is the skill that will help them understand when they have had too much to drink or that they need to get enough sleep at night to perform well on a test the next day. The secret to teaching self-discipline is to coordinate must-do-tasks with enjoyable activities. All children should have a study schedule. A time that is set a side just for doing homework. The study schedule should not conflict with their favorite television show, sports or other activities. Your child can reward themselves by spending time on their myspace account, talking on the phone or visiting friends.
Teach Critical Thinking
4. Teach your children to ask questions, gather facts and make decisions on their own regardless of the source of information. When you are watching cartoons or primetime shows with your children ask them if they think the show should have ended differently and why. Read stories to your children and ask them whether or not they think the story is plausible. Ask your child their opinion about various topics and ask them to support their answers with evidence. Giving your child the ability to think critically and analyze situations from various perspectives and viewpoints is the greatest gift that you could ever give them to live harmoniously in a multi-cultural society. When a child is able to critically think for herself and make rational sound decisions; they will be less likely to engage in sexual activity, use illegal substances or participate in gangs. They will be able to determine if their actions are taking them closer to their life goals or further from their life goals. Most importantly, they will not make their decisions based on whether or not they will be caught or punished by authorities; they will make their decision based on their conscience of what is right and wrong. Teach them that greatness is not always about having the right answers or pleasing others; greatness is about asking the important questions and doing what is right, even if you stand alone.
Sense of Purpose
5. Find out what your child is naturally good at and give them as many opportunities as possible to express their natural gifts and talents. Include these activities when helping them to do their home work. Study Howard Gardener’s 9 Types of intelligence and analyze which type of intelligence best fit your child. Read data about learning styles and determine if your child is a left or right brain learner, and how they best process data in terms of whether the information is auditory, visual or kinesthetic. Some children do not fit into society’s standard mode of intelligence and are labeled as academic poor achievers. However these same children may be gifted at building things, painting, drawing or creating music. It is important for parents to tell their children that they were born with the perfect physical and intellectual gifts and talents to make their dreams come true. Birds were born with wings to fly, not to swim under water. Let your children know that there is a special place in the world just for them. Teach them to appreciate who they are when no one is looking.
6. We have all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but word will never hurt me.” Yet, we all know, that nothing hurts the human soul more than words. I bet you can immediately think of three or more times that someone has said something to you that hurt you so deeply that you could not sleep at night. You teach your children to be mentally tough by telling them that the most important person’s opinion of them that matters is their own and secondly, would be the opinion of someone who loves them deeply. Tell your child that people with fake confidence only believe in themselves when they are winning or things are going their way. People with real confidence believe in themselves regardless of the outcome because they only focus on the things that they can control. Teach them that they can not control the grade that the teacher will give them after a test; they can only control how long they study and how well they prepare before the test. Teaching a child to be mentally tough is teaching them to focus on the things that they can control and to ask themselves honestly, “Did I do my best?” If they can answer yes. There next question should be, “What can I do differently next time?”
7. Compassion is the universal language of feelings, emotions and morality. Teaching your child about compassion does not always include man-made laws and rules because these laws have created unspeakable conditions of human suffering such as slavery and what happened to the Jews. Teach your children that if they want to know how someone would feel or whether or not an act is right or wrong, tell them to ask themselves, “Do I want this to happen to me or someone I love dearly?” Their answer will connect them to the sincerest form of compassion that is connected to all of humanity.
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