It’s back to school time. Regardless of your child’s age, there are steps you can take to help your child thrive and flourish more this year. The key is focusing daily on these habits. Our children recognize our priorities when we don’t drop the ball despite the pressures and stress of family life.
1. Daily responsibility
Putting homework and books into knapsacks nightly, clearing away your plate and fork from the dinner table, placing laundry in the hamper are all examples of daily tasks that teach children to be self-responsible. When you realize that the mess you make is yours to clean and that there is no one who is going to be accountable for your tasks but you, maturity is gained.
Parents often give lectures about being responsible but the real way of transmitting this essential character trait is through making sure that our children live what we preach.
Successful children understand that they can be self-reliant and independent. They don’t whine about their tasks. We don’t fall apart as easily if we recognize that life is about accountability and responsibility.
2. Good relationship skills
Children who are socially happy in school and know how to settle conflicts with peers will be more successful students. If you see that your child is getting bogged down in arguments with siblings or friends, make a mental note of what is happening. Is your child overly sensitive? Is she easily explosive? Does he always have to get his way? Does your child know how to give space to others-both physical and emotional? Is shyness or lack of self-confidence preventing socialization?
Social skills are not automatic. As children grow we may notice that they are being excluded. Some children are socially awkward. Others don’t know how to read social cues properly. And there are those whose parents hovered when they were little so that they are now inept in grade school, high school, even college.
A 20-year study at Penn State and Duke found that kids with good social skills became more successful as years passed; it behooves us to help guide our children.
Pay attention to the way your child deals with peers and family members. Instead of jumping in, allow your child to find resolution. If you must, speak privately to your child about the right way to apologize and forgive. (Some adults may need to brush up on these skills before teaching their children.) Open your child’s eyes to feeling empathy, giving a helping hand to someone in need, and being sensitive to other’s challenges.
Too many of our children sit in front of their screens completely oblivious to the people around them. Facial expressions, eye contact, body language is completely ignored or misread. They do better with emoji’s than living breathing human beings. Texting all types of emotions is easy but saying “I’m sorry,” “I’m so happy to see you,” or “I’m excited” feels clumsy. The power of a kind word, reassuring gesture, and sympathetic eye cannot be minimized. Our children are losing this vital human connection through which relationships are built and endure.
Teach your child to put down his phone, especially at dinner time. Be sure to lead by example. Sit down and communicate together. Share a funny story or something that happened to you during the day.
3. Good study habits
Children require calm and adequate time to study. Pushing off studying until the last possible minute is a bad habit. Checking texts or Instagram while doing homework ensures a distracted mind. A loud noisy environment does not encourage concentration. If you know that your child is a procrastinator, or that assignments are consistently missed as the year passes, set a goal to tackle the issue this year. Ask your child before the problems begin: what can we do to make this year better? Involve your child in the solution. Good study habits bring children to feel more secure and self-assured as they face their school day.
Parents should be careful not to put down their children’s teachers and authority figures. We must model the behavior we expect. When we speak respectfully of teachers and school rules, children understand that their behavior towards school and authority matters. We will not look away at rudeness, ignoring of tests and projects due.
4. Value effort over grades
We have come to fear failure. Many parents would rather stay up the entire night and complete the science fair project than see their child grapple with a poor grade. Take a step back and recognize that even when not doing well there is opportunity for growth. There is no life that will not be touched by disappointment. Each person will find themselves in a situation where he has fallen and must pick himself up and try again. If never allowed the experience, how will our children know the power of their efforts?
Resilience cannot be taught, it must be lived. Give your child space to grow.
Pushing the idea that grades matter more than effort strips children of discovering their inner power to accomplish greatness.
This year pave the road toward success by focusing daily on these four habits.
by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff