October 14, 2013 by middleearthnj
Most parents desire their children to grow and develop into productive, responsible, happy adults. Although there is nothing you can do to guarantee that outcome, there are certain skills that parents can role model to their children that will greatly increase that possibility.
Successful people are able to learn on their own. There is no school or parent that can possibly teach a child everything they will ever have to know. If, instead, we develop in our youth the ability to teach themselves anything, then we don’t need to teach them everything, because they can learn it themselves when the need arises. The best way to teach yourself is to ask questions. Many parents unwittingly discourage questions from their children – perhaps your teen asks too many questions or asks them at a bad time or seems to be questioning your reasoning. Whatever the reason, parents should make a great effort to encourage questions. Role model learning in this way. When you and your teen encounter something new, ask questions and explore the possible answers with them.
When someone is able to solve problems, they can do almost anything – a new skill, a new environment, a new need, a new job. When a young person feels confident in their ability to problem solve, they will not shy away from great opportunities simply because they feel intimidated. Parents should role model the steps they take to solve problems with younger children. As children become teens, parents can help them walk through problem solving every time their teen reaches a challenge or obstacle. Read our previous blog Teaching Problem Solving Skills.
Life is a series of projects. Students have school projects, employees have work projects, and homeowners know that there are always house projects. Work on projects together with your teen, first by showing them how it’s done by working with you, and then letting them do more and more by themselves. Learning to manage a project from beginning to completion will provide your teen with self-confidence and they can apply this skill to any number of projects they encounter in their future.
Compassion is an essential skill to be able to get along with others. It helps us to be good employees, neighbors, and friends. This skill is always best taught through modeling when parents are compassionate to their children and to others. Demonstrate how to ease the suffering of others when you’re able, ask questions about how others might feel in specific circumstances, and show how much happier you feel when you are able to offer someone else kindness.
When you are so excited about something that you can’t stop thinking about it, you have found something you are passionate about. Passion is a better motivator than goals, rewards, or discipline. It creates commitment and joy. Help your teen find things they are passionate about by trying lots of different experiences until they find one that really excites them. Encourage their interest, even if it doesn’t interest you.
To develop into a productive adult, teens need to learn to do things on their own. Parents must constantly encourage independence by first showing and/or modeling how to do something, then helping their teen do it, and then letting them try it by themselves and make their own mistakes. Mistakes are crucial to the learning process, and are not something to be avoided. This process builds self-esteem and confidence when they realize they can manage themselves.
Most Americans live in an area where all of the people are mostly alike. Whether its skin color, socio-economic status, political affiliation, or any other trait, we tend to group with others who are similar. This can mean that when your teen comes into contact with people who are different, they can feel afraid or uncomfortable. Parents should try to expose their youth to different types of people and talk about the positive things that differences can bring.
Adapt to Change.
No one is good at predicting the future, and technically, we have no idea what the world has in store for us. The world is constantly changing. So, the best way to prepare our kids for an unpredictable world is to teach them to adapt and deal with change. Developing the ability to flow with the shifting landscape of our lives reduces fear and helps us to embrace new opportunities that weren’t available before. Parents should let children know that part of the excitement in life is when things turn out differently than we expect.
Parents may not know what the future will bring, but they can prepare today’s youth to adapt to, learn from, or solve life’s curveballs. That is a true gift that will continue giving for years to come.