The solution? Levine suggests that parents step back and reevaluate what’s important to them, create a new definition of success, and then focus on fostering resilience in their kids.
“How would you ever know if you were capable or not if you didn’t have to opportunity to try, fail, and pick yourself up again?” she asks.
Levine says that parents who want to raise kids who can really succeed in life should focus on teaching them these life skills:
• Resourcefulness. Teaching kids how to self-soothe, acknowledging that there may be several ways to solve a problem, and making them search for a solution slightly outside of their comfort zone can help kids learn how to make the most out of the situations in which they find themselves. That, in turn, helps them to be successful regardless of which path they take in life. But be patient — children have limited resources, and it can take time to figure out what to do. It’s tempting to try to rush them or, worse, save time by doing everything for them yourself.
• Enthusiasm. “Without enthusiasm, kids are just going through the motions,” Levine points out. One major parental pitfall is expecting your kids to automatically admire the same things you do. Instead of pushing your kids toward your own goals, observe their interests and remember that their aspirations don’t have to be the same as yours.
• Creativity. Academic excellence is all well and good, but some kids just aren’t cut out for life on the Dean’s list. The skills they learn from creative pursuits can help them learn how to think outside of the box, solve problems, and succeed in non-academic settings. Keep crafts within easy reach, Levine suggests, steer kids toward open-ended activities like reading and building with blocks, and offer plenty of positive feedback.
• A strong work ethic. “In addition to focusing on effort, persistence, and discipline, do make sure to notice other components of a good work ethic like integrity or the ability to communicate and collaborate,” Levine writes. Make sure that the work your child is expected to do is reasonable — expecting a kindergartener to perform like a second grader just sets him up for failure and you for disappointment — and be sure to show them that you can embrace hard work as well.
• Self-efficacy. Along with having good self-esteem and self-control, self-efficacy — the belief that we have a measure of control over what we do with our lives — is crucial to success. “Don’t project your own anxiety as your child moves forward,” Levine writes. Doing so prevents kids from pushing past existing boundaries and trying new things, and robs them of their ability to solve problems on their own.
“We do not have to choose between a children’s well-being and their success. Both are inside jobs. They are developed when kids are guided and encouraged to build a sense of self internally” Levine writes. “Ultimately, it is only our children themselves who pass judgment on their success, or lack thereof, in their lives.”
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