Five Things You Need to Teach Your Kids
Meg Harr wrote for the website and parenting tool kit, SmarterParenting, an article titled, "The parenting advice you really need: 5 things to teach your kids." In this blog post, Harr indicated that there is an excess of parent advice in our world. While some of the information may be beneficial, informative, inspiring, and helpful; there is an information overload. It's easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted trying to take in all the advice and always do the "right" thing, but really, there just isn't enough time to do absolutely everything. So what is essential? What exactly do you need to teach your children so that they can become happy and healthy adults one day? The first thing that Harr wants you to teach your child is that failure is good, meaning that children need to understand that it's okay to make mistakes. When they have a negative view of failure, then the fear of failing will deter them from trying new things and achieving their goals. Try and teach your kids to view failure as an opportunity; it's a chance to learn and grow. Teach them to embrace a "growth mindset," which is a mindset that was introduced by Carol Dweck. It encourages us to teach our children that learning is a process; the brain and natural talent are just the starting point. Dweck feels that this perspective creates "a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment." The failing is not the problem, it's the giving up. Teach your kids to try and try again for the goals they are aiming for and to never give up, no matter how many times that may "fail." The next important lesson is creativity is key. Creativity does not simply belong to the artists, musicians, dancers, or children playing dress up. It's also innovation, problem-solving, and adaptability, which are skills that have application far beyond the playroom. Harr says that "the ability to think creatively is a distinguishing factor, both for professional and personal life." Creativity comes natural to kids, you don't have to coax it to come out. Creativity can be encouraged by taking your kids outside to explores nature, and supporting them to come up with solutions to certain problems on their own. Harr believes that the best thing for a parent to do in order to encourage creativity is to just get out of the way. Parents who are able to step back and let their child explore and make discoveries on their own will be encouraging creativity in the best way for their child. The third thing to make sure that you teach your child is that kindness matters. A study from Harvard University surprisingly found that the majority of youth in today's society reported that they valued personal achievement over being a caring community member. The researchers from this study noted that when individuals put self interest above qualities like kindness and fairness, they are at a greater risk for harmful behaviors such as cruelness, disrespect, and dishonesty. Many people have heard of "the golden rule," and really, it's true, and children need to be taught empathy. Try and find the time to read and learn with your child; read about different ethnicities and cultures, celebrations, and about being friends with someone different from you. By creating these opportunities, your child will hopefully learn to respect and appreciate all people, to see the good in everyone. Another good idea is to teach your children that consequences happen. It is important for children to learn that while they can choose their own path, they cannot choose their consequences. Kids at any age, need to be taught that they are responsible for their own actions, and those choices may have consequences; this is how they learn that ultimately, they are responsible for themselves. It is best to teach this lesson early and let children feel the natural consequences of their actions and choices, when the ramifications are not as significant as they would be in high school or college. Lastly, teach your children to take chances. As Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus says, "take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" When children are little, they have the belief that just about anything is possible, but as they get older, they start to lose that belief that the "impossible is possible." All of the times they have heard "no" begin to catch up to them. Shooting for the stars should still be encouraged, though. If your child begins to show interest in something, help them to develop their talents in that area, while still encouraging them to work hard so that their dream can become reality. You cannot know exactly what and who your child will become, but teaching them these essential life lessons will give them the tools they need to be amazing.