by Kendra Ericson
Raising kids can be so frustrating that we often feel powerless to help our children grow into the happy and successful adults they have the potential to become. From this perspective, we often wish that if only my child “could understand this one thing,” everything would be…easier, less painful, or even more joyful for our kids. But these pearls of wisdom can be difficult to dispense because kids (teenagers especially) seem to cast them aside with ease.
Don’t despair, even when kids seem like they’re not listening, the ideas you communicate and the way you lead by example will help them absorb the information they need to grow into joyful and productive adults.
At N-GENioUS Learning Center, the collective experiences of former teenagers, teachers, professionals and leaders have contributed to the development of a unique way of reaching students, as well as uncovering some useful pearls of wisdom for parents and teachers to utilize in helping kids become successful in school and life. Here are our top eight:
Speak up – What your kids have to say may not always be what you want to hear, but teaching them to tactfully speak their minds will allow them to become stronger thinkers and communicators, in addition to providing a platform for open communication from which you both can benefit.
Be realistic – While we all know that no one is perfect, it’s often difficult to set realistic goals for our kids because we believe they are capable of anything if they try hard enough. Help your children succeed by assisting them in constructing attainable goals. Then, watch as they develop a sense of accomplishment when objectives are reached.
Beware of false audiences – Teenagers often succumb to the idea that everyone is looking at them. While you may not be able to completely eradicate this common fear/obsession from your child’s life, try not to reinforce the notion by focusing too much on your son or daughter’s physical appearance.
Admit your mistakes – Don’t think you have to be right all the time, and don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. No one has all the answers, and it’s good for kids to learn early on that everyone makes mistakes and being wrong isn’t the end of the world. When you don’t have an answer, take this process a step further by showing your child where to find the solution.
Validate their feelings – The feelings children experience are as vivid and powerful as those of adults. As a result, puppy love, heartbreak, anxiety over school/work, etc. are just as overwhelming and potentially devastating to kids as to adults. Try not to minimize your child’s feelings when she or he confesses them. Acknowledging a child’s feelings is a good starting place for larger discussions that may need to take place.
Get in the game – It’s clichéd but true that no one ever scored a goal while sitting on the sidelines. Encourage your kids to take risks. The most common regrets people have stem from opportunities not seized or trips not taken. After all, life is a journey…not a destination.
Never miss a chance to laugh – Time really does pass faster as we get older, and both kids and adults tend to miss out on opportunities to have fun as we’re often wrapped up in the pressures of school and work. Teaching kids the value of laughing, in general and particularly at themselves, will help your child not to take him or herself too seriously. Set the example by laughing at yourself, and your kids are bound to follow.
Stay positive – Show your kids that even when things get rough, there’s always an upside, even if the upside is that the worst is over. It’s not useful for kids to hear that life isn’t fair or that life is hard – they already know these things. What they don’t always know is that everything will be okay or that everything will work out in the end.
Most of us knowingly or unknowingly carry these pearls with us as gifts from people we’ve admired or as compasses to give us direction. For many parents, the greatest pearl becomes the idea that when you’re frustrated with your kids, it’s imperative not to give up. Somewhere under the pop-star clothes, scowling expression, or brightly dyed hair is a young person who is struggling to construct his or her own identity while trying to stand out and fit in (never an easy feat!). So don’t give up on them or yourself, and continue to inform, lead, and model the values you would like your kids to adopt – there’s no guarantee that they will accept them all, but beneath the music they use to try to drown you out, they’re listening. b