How do you define success? As attaining respected degrees, certifications or positions? As having a sophisticated appearance complete with designer clothes and expensive jewelry? As gaining material wealth? These things can bring enjoyment; however, they all too often leave us lacking something very basic â€“ inner happiness.
Almost every client who comes to me has achieved some symbol of success. Yet they seek me out. They are hungry for something more, something that will fulfill them. Most lack a sense of self-worth and a connection to a deeper purpose in life.
Perhaps we are approaching success backwards. Outer success is empty if itâ€™s not based on a sense of inner well-being. If we as parents focus on nurturing inner well-being in our children, we are providing the foundation for them to achieve and enjoy success by the worldâ€™s standards.
As a mother, I am committed to nurturing the natural exuberanceâ€”the Life forceâ€”that expresses uniquely through each of my children. I choose to accept them as they are and help them to find ways to express their talents that contribute to their own well being and the well-being of others.
I believe that as they find joy and follow their purpose with passion, success will inevitably find them.
I am continually reminded that I need Divine help to parent wisely. I often whisper a prayer, â€œGod grant me wisdom as I deal with my children. â€œ
Sometimes answers to this prayer have come in the form of insightsâ€”simple ideas that I can use to guide my children toward meaningful success. Here are a few:
1. Find the good in your children. We always have a choice. We can look at our children with criticism or with compassion. All children have plenty of room for development. (We do too.) So why focus on, â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with my child?â€ When you can ask instead, â€œWhatâ€™s right with my child?â€ As we look for the good, our children feel safe and trust us. They feel loved. By establishing an environment of acceptance, we give our children the space to experiment, to learn what doesnâ€™t work and what does work. Gradually they learn to express the best in themselves.
2. Use your words to affirm and encourage. Remember that words we choose and use with our children provide a framework for their sense of self. The views you express are programming your childâ€™s mind. One client shared that when he was only eight his father told him, â€œYou will never be successful.â€ This man is now sixty, yet these words play in his mind, fueling self-doubt and causing inner agony. He and I spent many sessions reprogramming his beliefs so that he can let go his dadâ€™s destructive words and enjoy his own competence.
How do you deal with childish â€œfoolishnessâ€ or stubbornness? Avoid damaging comments such as , â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with you?…You are lazyâ€¦You are irresponsibleâ€¦How could you have been so stupid?…You never do anything right…You are a disgrace to our familyâ€¦â€
Instead, consider a constructive approach, â€œYou are so bright, I know you can make a better choice next time. ..That decision didnâ€™t work out so well, did it? What could you do instead to get a better result? â€¦I am proud to have you as my childâ€¦I believe in youâ€¦Do the best you canâ€¦You can learn anything you need to when you apply yourselfâ€¦â€
Author Gary Smalley sums it up, â€œAffirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a childâ€™s life and itâ€™s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.â€
3. Move through anger wisely. Think of a tube of toothpaste. Imagine someone rapidly squeezing the toothpaste out of the tube. How difficult would it be to put that toothpaste back into the tube? It is virtually impossible. Yet we create a parallel situation when we use angry words. We spew verbal insults quickly and furiously without thinking. We say words that can never be taken back. If you find yourself irritated or angry with a child, donâ€™t lash out with a verbal assault or a physical slap. Instead, walk away and calm down first. Pray for wisdom. Get perspective. When you are calm, go back and deal with the issue in love.
4. Model mature ways to deal with turbulent emotions. Difficult life situations trigger powerful emotional surges for children and adults. All of us struggle with hurt, stress, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, loss, grief and fear. What do we do when these emotions rage inside us? We have to find appropriate ways to express and dispel them. If we repeatedly suppress intense emotions, they will at some point erupt in inappropriate ways. We adults need to learn healthy ways to deal with our emotions. As you are learning to do this, you can teach your children.
Donâ€™t shut yourself or your children down by judging their emotions as inappropriate or unacceptable. These moments may feel uncomfortable, but they can strengthen your relationship with your child and offer everyone involved an opportunity for personal growth and healing. Be honest as you experience your emotions and encourage your children to do the same. Make space for them to express the way they feel so that they can learn to process their emotions in a healthy way.
5. Create a sense of safety and security. It is very unlikely that a child who is violated by emotional or physical brutality or sexual abuse will become a whole and healthy adult. Childhood is the time when each of us needs to build and maintain a sense of wholeness. All too often adults excuse spiteful words and physical cruelty, passing it off as â€œdeserved punishment.â€
Be aware!! Protect your child from all forms of abuse. That includes any form of sexual violation. Train them that it is not appropriate or acceptable for adults or other children to touch them in private places. Donâ€™t ignore unusual behaviors. If a child becomes anxious or withdrawn, approach them with love. Encourage them to tell you what is bothering them. Then listen. Follow through. Investigate. Remove your child from harm. Assure them of your protection.
6. Guide and empower rather than control. Notice that when you try to control your child, the child often resists you. Why not guide your children? Empower them. Encourage them to think independently and to reflect on the results (good or bad) that accompany the choices they make. Provide age appropriate opportunities for them to make their own decisions. If you continually make decision for your children, telling them how they should think, feel and act, they will not learn to think, feel and act for themselves.
7. Discover a childâ€™s natural interests and passions. Then find ways to nurture these aptitudes. Each of us brings to this world a unique set of abilities that allow us to enjoy life and contribute to society. Why are so many people unhappy in their jobs? All too often children become doctors, lawyers or corporate managers to please their parents. If you will watch, you will see that very young children are clear about what interests them. If we foster our childrenâ€™s natural interests, they will find their way to meaningful success in jobs that allow them to be themselves.
Your assignment is to find the one point above that touches you. Be honest with yourself about ways you can improve your parenting. Actively seek situations where you can put these principles into practice. Remember to be patient with yourself. It takes consistent action to form new parenting habits.
Do your best every day. Itâ€™s your opportunity to better your life, the life of your child and to change your corner of the world.
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Food For Thought
â€œWhat we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.â€
Ã“ Patricia G. Omoqui 2010, All Rights Reserved
Patricia Omoqui, The Thought Dr. â„¢, is an internationally recognized inspirational speaker, life coach and writer. Patriciaâ€™s mission in life is to inspire people to move beyond fear so they can reach their full potential.
To share your thoughts about this article, please email Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her at her website: www.patriciaomoqui.com .