Most parents want their kids to be successful in life—and so we teach them attitudes that we believe will help them achieve their goals. But are we really doing them a favour? As it turns out many widely-held theories about what it takes to be successful are proving to be counterproductive.
Here are a few of the most damaging things many of us are currently teaching our children about success, and what to teach them instead.
What we tell our kids: Focus on the future. Keep your eyes on the prize.
What we should be telling them: Live (or work) in the moment.
Not only does focusing on the future lead to anxiety but children also do better, and feel happier, if they are learn how to stay in the present moment. And when people feel happy, they’re able to learn faster, think more creatively, and problem-solve more easily. Positive emotions also make you more resilient to stress—helping you to overcome challenges and setbacks more quickly so you can get back on track.
What we tell our kids: Stress is inevitable—keep pushing yourself.
What we should be telling them instead: Learn to chill out.
Children are feeling anxious at younger and younger ages, worrying about grades and feeling pressure to do better at school. Try teaching your children the skills they will need to be more resilient in the face of stressful events, and to take the time out to simply chill out.
What we tell our kids: Stay busy.
What we should be telling them: Have fun doing nothing.
People and children are more likely to come up with brilliant ideas when we are not focusing. So instead of over-scheduling kids, we should be blocking out time when they can be left to their own devices. Giving your kids downtime will help them to be more creative and innovative. And just as importantly, it will help them learn to relax.
What we tell our kids: Play to your strengths.
What we should be telling them: Make mistakes and learn to fail.
Our brains are wired to learn new things. And it can only be a good thing to learn from our mistakes while we’re young. So instead identifying your child’s strengths and focusing on them, teach them that they actually can learn anything—as long as they try. Children will then be more optimistic and even enthusiastic in the face of challenges, knowing that they just need to give it another go to improve. And they will be less likely to feel down about themselves and their talents.
What we tell our kids: Know your weaknesses, and don’t be soft.
What we should be telling them: Treat yourself well.
Teaching our children their weaknesses can easily lead to self-criticism, and self-criticism is basically self-sabotage. It keeps you focused on what’s wrong with you, thereby decreasing your confidence. It makes you afraid of failure, which hurts your performance, makes you give up more easily, and leads to poor decision-making. Instead encourage your children to develop attitudes of self-compassion, which means treating yourself as you would a friend in times of failure or pain. It simply means that they learn not to beat themselves up. This mindset will allow her to excel in the face of challenge, develop new social skills, and learn from mistakes.
What we tell our kids: It’s a dog-eat-dog world—so look out for number one.
What we should be telling them: Show compassion to others.
From childhood onward, our social connections are the most important predictor of health, happiness and even longevity. Having positive relationships with other people is essential for our well-being, which in turn influences our intellectual abilities and ultimate success.
Children are naturally compassionate and kind, but young people are also becoming increasingly self-involved. So it’s important to encourage children’s natural instincts to care about other people’s feelings and learn to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
To read the full article by Emma Seppala please click here
HANNA GIRLING, wife, mother, business owner, coach, sport enthusiast and forever an optimist.