By Dr. Sheila E. Sapp
All parents and caregivers want their children to have successful and productive lives as they journey to adulthood. Many do not realize that they have access to power tools that ensure not only their children’s success, but also enable them to become future contributing members of our society. What are those power tools, and how are they obtained?
Self-esteem, self-confidence, resilience and perseverance are the power tools needed for life success. Parents can nurture and foster these tools from birth up through adulthood. Children learn to love and accept themselves from significant others in their home — namely parents. During their early years of development, children learn from what they see and hear. They are literally soaking up everything in their environment. Parents are walking billboards and role models for their children. If they are not loved and valued in their family, they are less likely to feel loved and develop strong self-esteem.
Successes and acceptance help children gain confidence in their abilities as they learn how to do simple tasks, such as tying their shoes, dressing themselves, brushing their teeth, recognizing/writing their name or counting to 10. Parents and caregivers need to provide positive experiences and appropriate tasks that are developmentally appropriate for children. Remember, they are learning and need your patience as well as instruction to become skilled doing the assigned tasks.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from failures and disappointments. Sometimes, we as adults want to fix everything for our children. We want everything to be perfect and hover over them — blocking the opportunity for them to develop coping skills and learn how recover from mistakes or failures. We forget about the coping skills we acquired over time to help us adjust or modify if needed.
Start with simple things to help them develop resilience. For example, if your child keeps leaving homework at home, he or she should face the consequences of this action. Let your child come up with a plan with your guidance. Praise him or her for solving the problem. Share how you bounced back from a disappointment or failure. Children learn from parents’ actions and personal experiences, too.
Learning how to stick to something or accomplish a goal no matter how long it takes is an important tool. Children will face many situations throughout life, and as they mature, events and situations will test their willingness to persevere despite difficulties. Adults in their lives can nurture and assist children in developing perseverance. As children show an interest or talent in areas like sports, dance, or music, for example, provide resources needed to strengthen that aptitude. Do not allow them to quit when things are hard or tiring. Encourage them to stay and see a project, activity or goal to its completion.
Being a parent or caregiver is rewarding and challenging. Equipping children with power tools for future life success is critical for the overall health and well-being of children and families.
Dr. Sheila E. Sapp is a retired educator and former school administrator who has served as a reading specialist, elementary curriculum director, adjunct college instructor, author and speaker. Dr. Sapp owns Sheila E. Cares Educational Consulting and Services LLC. Learn more at https://sheilaecares.com.