Perhaps its every parent’s dream to raise children who’re happy, healthy, emotionally resilient and have high self-confidence. I began observing and studying this topic during my adolescence when I first heard of the concept of the optimistic child and of course I’ve been preparing how I want to raise children. This meant I really had to think and practise the behaviours and characteristics myself. How could I expect other people to do things if I wasn’t to demonstrate and instruct them? I also learned there are two primary ways in which children learn; imitation from one or both parents and the ‘pain and pleasure’ principle.
A child will first learn from imitation (values, behaviours, opinions, attitudes, beliefs). The second way a child learns is to choose and move towards perceived ‘pleasure over pain’. And much of what people will do in their life is for love (the need to belong). But it’s the perception of the child that counts. If the child is to see and feel the withdrawal of love from parents, it can create negative patterns of behaviour. The fear of ‘loss of love’ is a powerful driving force that can cause all kinds of personality problems and insecurities that become habitual reactionary ways to compensate for the lack of love people have and feel about themselves. Children then become adults who’re fear driven rather than desire driven. Therefore, I think the primary goal of being a parent should be to raise children with high self-confidence and high self-esteem.
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Children want and need clear rules. Because children are always looking towards adults for cues on how to think and act. Character is built through commitment and adversity and the first thing to do is communicate clear expectations that guide behaviours, self-discipline and duty. Young people want you to create the rules, it demonstrates that you love and care for them.
The clear set of guidelines in their life will provide structure and consistency in their lives. We want to send the child a message that you’re a developing person and I’m committed to your development. I then will set very high standards but most importantly I will show children how to reach them. Are great achievements and making great contributions worth having? Then create empowering rules to live by, and your children will also learn from a young age that they’re in control of their lives and can rise above their circumstances.
Independent Decision Making
Children that are happy, confident and emotionally resilient make empowering decisions. And we want to empower children to make their own decisions, so they learn to improve their decision-making process to not only take responsibility for their life and actions but consistently grow into the person they want to be. To teach a belief in improvement so children can understand and foresee the rewards and consequences as lecturing doesn’t have half the effect of understanding consequences.
When parents allow their children to make their own choices about the activities they like to do, they’re more likely to develop areas of interest that cultivate into life passions. When people give up, they do so for a reason. But the highest performing individuals don’t swap top level goals and it’s critically important to keep going when things become difficult with passion and perseverance. People who continually defy the odds, achieve, play and push to their extremes of use have GRIT.
If you wanted to give your child a gift of wisdom to close the gap between his/her potential and actualization it would be to teach and train children to love effort, challenges, making mistakes, trying new strategies and that no matter what you can keep on learning and improving.
Positive Language but praising intelligently
One of the most important things to consider when we speak to children is that we do it positively to shape their personality and confidence. Because culturally we’re all shaped by the language we use. Do you have to love yourself before you can teach your child to love and like themselves? Am I modelling self-love, positive self-talk and resilience?
At the core of confidence is self-esteem and it’s the key to happiness, personal effectiveness and healthy relationships with self and others in our lives. Why? Because the more you like yourself the better you feel about yourself and perform at anything you do. Therefore, destructive criticism must not be used towards children as many don’t have the social intelligence and accept anybody’s opinion as true. For example; the boy who grows up believing he’s stupid and the girl who sees herself as ugly. Many children learn to believe those messages. When something goes wrong it’s easy to blame, but Instead of getting angry could you learn to use helpful actions because we want to make sure that the child feels loved and can improve their behaviour. I praise effort, strategy and steps in the right direction leading children to a growth-mindset.
However, children do need honest and constructive feedback as withholding the truth to their development harms their future. Constructive feedback must have the child feeling better about themselves to think through their problems and perform better. How can you transform the meaning of effort and difficulty?
For honest self-assessment:
- What am I doing to make sure my child has the psychological and emotional foundation to become a self-confident individual?
- How much passion and perseverance do I have for my own life goals?
To raising optimistic children,