As parents, we are our children’s first and most important teachers: we create the biggest impact on their mental, physical, social, emotional and moral development. We influence their habits, their values, and many times, the way they make their decisions. With such responsibility, how do we raise happy and confident children who reach their full potential? Here are a few tips:
- Guide your child in building a vision for the future. There is actually this part of our brains called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that mediates our future goals and dreams. The RAS, located in the core of our brain stem, serves as a filter between our conscious and unconscious mind. Once we set our intent on something, say a particular career goal or dream, we are directing our RAS to stretch toward that aforementioned future, and allow us to enjoy our journey getting there. Once your child knows what he wants for his future, then he can engage his RAS. Help your child build his goals and vision. Be interested in him–what and how he thinks, his interests (even if they don’t agree with yours), strengths, weaknesses, etc.. Have conversations on topics beyond homework and daily routine. Share your own dreams–your dreams from childhood, your goals growing up, what you achieved, how you achieved them, how the journey was along the way. It’s never too late to create new goals and dreams. Draw them, write them down, set the RAS into action and join them in dreaming big!
- Be emotionally available for your child. As we get caught up with our seemingly endless lists of tasks, we must consciously make ourselves emotionally available for our children specially during their adolescent years. “Being there” is not just limited to physical presence or the ability to provide for materially. When you spend time with your kids, put away your own devices and things that can pull our attention away from them–they know when we are truly engaged and listening to them. Let mind and heart be 100% present. Teach children to identify emotions and express these, and don’t be afraid to show your own and how you manage these so they learn by example. Take time to really talk and connect every day, regardless of everyone’s busy schedule. A series of research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) have shown that just by eating meals with their family and engaging in conversations, children’s grades can be positively affected, along with these other benefits. Let’s keep learning and improving so we can contribute to a major part of our children’s strong support system–a cornerstone in having a positive home environment.
- Seek support if you need to. Aside from academic support, check if your children need socio-emotional support. Do they frequently have negative emotions (fear, sad, angry, etc.)? How is their confidence level? Are they able to be themselves and express who they are? Do they seem withdrawn? With mental health issues appearing in more and more people and even among the younger ones, equip yourself with the knowledge and skill in incorporating ways to build resilience, self-confidence and strong self-esteem in your children. Be attuned to your child’s life. Never be embarrassed to seek clarity by talking to their teachers, the school counselor, a psychologist, development pediatrician, knowledgeable parents or friends, etc. Remember, early intervention is always better. This article may help you identify which kind of help to get for your child.
- Always find positive in the negative. Avoid treating your child’s mistakes as failures, an extension of his personality, a reflection of yours or somebody else’s fault. Look at mistakes as opportunities for both of you to learn and grow. Your child needs to realize that making mistakes is part of experiencing life. When he does not succeed at something, help him figure out how he can do it better. Instead of saying, “How many times do I have to tell you this?”, say “Okay, let’s do that again and see what we can do differently.” If it’s not working, then find another way and keep finding other ways. Be a resilient parent, too. As no adult or child is perfect, let’s accept the hiccups that come with parenting and see them as hiccups, and use positive language. Hearing “I see you did it that way. Could you think of a another way to do it?” sounds more welcoming than a flat “That’s wrong!”
- Equally process wins and losses. Teaching children the skill of healthy self-reflection involves guiding them to develop a balanced view of themselves and a healthy way of coping with both successes and failures that happen in their lives. Be fair to them–process wins and losses with them at face value with equal weight. Avoid being the parent who hypes up every little success of your child but sweeps all failures under the rug. Neither be the parent who dissects every failure and ignores even the major successes. Gauge, acknowledge and emphasize the importance of effort–this gives great benefits in the long run. So what if your son’s team didn’t win the game last weekend, or he didn’t get all A’s? At the end of the day, we want our children to be healthy socio-emotionally, regardless of their abilities, skills and wherever they may end up in the future. By teaching children to reflect, to be grateful for something each day and to look forward to something tomorrow, we get them on the path to becoming happy, productive adults.
BrainRx helps children bloom by improving their cognitive abilities. When weak cognitive skills are identified to be the root cause of learning and performance struggles and we strengthen these through the BrainRx program, we often see a significant boost in self-esteem. Students start to realise strengths they never thought they could have, and discover they could do things they used to find difficult and as a result, outlook and behavior improve. #lifechanging