- It is possible to achieve success without sacrificing personal values.
- Being yourself is good enough.
- Compassion often leads to connection and understanding.
It seems clear that the building blocks of a successful adulthood are forged in childhood. The way our children interpret our actions and the actions of those around them in large part helps determine who they become. Will they be confident? Will they be able to withstand peer pressure and avoid dangerous activities and substances? Will they be able to be respectful to others and live by their own ethics and values? And, of course, the life sweepstakes winner itself, will they be able to live happy and fulfilling lives?
All of these questions tend to be near the top of every parent’s list when it comes to raising happy, compassionate, confident, and fulfilled children. The question then becomes, how do they get there? How do children develop into adults who can navigate our society and find ways to be successful in whatever it is that fuels their passions and goals in life?
1. Children need to know they can fail at something and still be loved
We live in a society that often values success over everything else. Our media idolizes those who have “made it” in terms of wealth and fame and often doesn’t care how they got there. As a result, children sometimes grow up feeling that “winning is everything,” and as such may compromise their own ethics and morals to get what they want. In doing so, they may have regrets and unhappiness associated with their success due to previously buying into the belief that success was everything. When children know they are loved regardless of whether or not they succeed at what they’re attempting, it can help them stay centered. In this way, they can work toward what they want without the weight of feeling that if they fail they are somehow a lesser person. The goal is for them to retain their values and sense of self as they strive for their dreams.
2. Other people’s opinions don’t define them
One of the best things a child can feel is confidence in themselves. This can give them the strength to follow their own path. They don’t have to be tethered to other people’s views and opinions to somehow validate their value in the world. If there is something they love to do or something that matters to them, they can do it and not let other people’s opinions stop them from pursuing their dreams.
3. They have value just by being themselves
Children don’t have to do anything or prove anything to be worthy of love. Often in our society, we acquaint what a person does with the person’s value. That leads to kids who grow up believing they have to chase after things that other people value. By letting them know that whatever matters to them (whether it be a certain career, unique hobby, or alternative lifestyle) has value and deserves to be respected, helps children grow up proud of who they are and feeling good about what matters to them.
4. Being able to think for themselves
In today’s social media world, there are millions of people who want to convince us that the way they think is right. How many times have you turned on the television or read an article online, where someone was espousing a belief system they wanted you to believe in? Children, who are taught that they don’t have to accept anyone’s point of view as being the only point of view, are children who learn critical thinking skills. When they are able to develop these skills, it helps them not only assess their own beliefs, but also helps them navigate their lives more effectively. By being able to trust their own thought processes and judgments, they are more likely to make decisions congruent with choices that help them move toward their life goals.
5. Education and training are important
What child at one point or another has not decided that school was a huge waste of time? Just about every child has found the structure and challenges of their education to be sometimes difficult and often unenjoyable. Having discussions with your child about the importance of a strong education and eventual job training lets them know there is a higher purpose to their schooling. It shows them the importance of rising above the challenges of their education and helps them recognize its long-lasting value. It helps children when they have reinforcement from their parents that having marketable skill-sets can help lead to economic stability and the ability to have a more fulfilling, less stressful adulthood.
6. The journey can be joyous
When people only see value and feel satisfaction when they reach their final goals, they are missing out on a lot of the joy and good feelings that can occur along the way. It’s important for children to know that while life is not always easy, and there are times that are going to be difficult, life can also be joyous and exciting. There is a lot of satisfaction to be had while working toward your dreams and not just when you achieve them. Friends, family, and new experiences all contribute to a full and satisfying life. People who can enjoy the journey toward their success have a lot more opportunities for happiness than people who are only happy once they reach their goals.
7. Being a compassionate person
No matter what your belief system or political views, being compassionate and caring about other people can be extremely important to a fulfilling life. By modeling compassion and the importance of valuing people, even when they disagree with you, you are helping your child become a more compassionate person. When we care about people and can see the commonality in all of us and not just the differences, we are building bridges toward more caring and respect in the world.
While these are clearly not all of the things that children need to understand and internalize in order to succeed in their lives, they are certainly a good start. By being able to raise caring, compassionate children who have a strong sense of their own beliefs and morality, we are helping to make the world a more caring and respectful place. Support for who they are as people, a recognition of their value, and a willingness to be open to the views of others can go a long way in helping them develop skill-sets to live happier, more fulfilling lives