Another academic year has come to an end, I think it is very important for both parents and teachers to remember that neither have anything close to complete control when things don’t turn out well for the children. In fact, in most cases should not neither should shoulder all the blame. But parenting does matter. So does teaching.
In my personal credo; I believe parents and teachers can have a serious impact on the goals, strategies, and personal philosophies of children. Hence, how we lead them towards excellence is more elemental. Here are some beacon to developing the value of excellence:
- Believe in your child.
It almost always starts with a simple faith that each child has enormous potential. Then, it is up to us to gather whatever resources we can to make the most of that potential. Instead of wondering if our child is among the “gifted” chosen few; we as parents, as well as teachers should believe deeply in the extraordinary potential of our children. It is highly unlikely that significant achievement will occur in the absence of such faith.
- Allow failures and let children solve them.
It is not all about winning. As a matter of fact, losing often teaches us more than winning. And the only true failure is when we give up or sell our children short.
Most of the greatest success stories in our world came about when parents and children learn to stand up and surpass the current of the wind; and they begin to feel the pleasure of trotting against its advancing force. Hence, neither parents nor teachers should make things easier for kids. They are supposed to present, monitor, and modulate challenges.
Interestingly, even developmental biologists stress that all of human development is set up to be a response to problems and failures. It is an intrinsic and basic make-up of our specie. So, let failures come and let the children face up to solve them.
- Let them persist.
Persistence is the ability to stick with something. The act of persisting or persevering requires continuing or repeating behavior.
I have told my daughter that the difference between mediocrity and enormous success is most often time persistence. I told her this to remind her that she should not be complacent of her smarts because any person who willingly sticks with something he or she wants will have a high chance of getting it in the end.
Amazingly, even the great genius, Albert Einstein was noted to say; “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
- Give timely rewards and pace them.
In the practice of Special Education, we embrace this principle well. If you reward a behavior too late; other behaviors may start to manifest and the child will not be able to relate the reward to the accomplishments. Likewise, getting rewards too often will not likely teach a child to persist. They will likely quit when the rewards disappear. Hence, after a while, when the child knows his or her accomplishments are deemed to be good; we extinguish the speedy rewards and teach them to delay gratification. This opens up a whole new outlook for the child to look to into himself/herself better.
Scholarly studies have shown that children with an early capacity for self- discipline and delayed gratification had gone on to much higher academic success. The delayed-gratification kids were also rated as much better able to cope with social and personal problems. These equate to effective self-regulatory strategies which reduces frustration in situations where self- imposed delay is required to attain accomplishment.
- Support your kids but don’t smother them.
There will never be any right way and a wrong way to direct your kids toward achievement. It is definitely wonderful to have early exposure to resources is. It is also good to set high expectations whilst demonstrating persistence and resilience when it comes to life challenges. What becomes crucial however is using affection as a reward for success and withdrawal of it as a punishment for failure. When parents smother their children with affection after each accomplishment and shun them after failure; say, the parent beams when the child performs well, and then withdraws love when he’s underperforming. The child’s foundations of love and trust are corrupted when we use affection to reward and subsequently punish.
Supporting our children means we offer unconditional and unshifting love that is decidedly not connected to achievement. Instead, follow the child’s lead. We should try to do limit-setting and set high expectations. However, we will wait to see what our kids want to do and not become anxious if he/she isn’t high-achieving early on. As parents and even as teachers, the most important thing we will do for their childhood is to help them make friends and be an active part of the community.