Empowering your child for success seems like it would be a no brainer, right? As parents, that’s one of our main goals. Building that type of successful energy comes pretty easily at the beginning; however, keeping that momentum going takes some work.
While I can’t call myself an expert in child behavior (other than raising my own two boys and working with junior highers for the past 20 years), I am an expert in borrowing good ideas and techniques I observe others using. Below are the top three tips I’ve gleaned from others that I have found make a lot of sense and are quite rewarding. They have worked wonders for me as a parent and as a teacher, and I hope you find them useful, as well.
Create a contract with your child
This might seem a bit stuffy or formal. I mean, we sign contracts when we want to legally bind someone or hold them accountable. However, this has worked well for some of the families I’ve worked with over the years, in addition to my own son. A few weeks into the school year, my son struggled to put any effort towards his school work. Slowly, as the weeks moved along, we noticed poor grades, apathy in his work ethic, and behavioral issues forming at home.
During my lunch break one day, I quickly whipped out a contract. In it, I outlined what we expect from him, what he can expect from us, and what fulfillment of this contract would bring. In a matter of weeks, we saw a changed kiddo. Homework wasn’t a battle, and he quickly did his chores (most) evenings without complaints. I’m happy to report that at the end of the first quarter, we all went to Wendy’s (what he chose for keeping up his end of the contract) to celebrate the growth in his mindset and the positive behavior he had adopted.
Offer rewards rather than punishments
On a daily basis, I hear so many parents threaten that they are going to take away their child’s phone, computer, time with their friends, special Spring Break trip, etc. You name it, a parent has threatened to take it away. While I understand this knee-jerk reaction, it rarely has the desired effect. Rather, it seems to create a barrier between the parent and child, building anger and frustration in the former and resentment in the latter.
A better approach that I’ve seen and tried is having children earn things for good behavior or making the right decisions. Earning a privilege rather than having something taken away is empowering that child to make better decisions because they see the logic behind it, promoting more positive parenting.
Let your children fail
While necessary at all age levels, this is especially useful in the lower grades before colleges start looking at transcripts and records. Think about if your seventh-grade student failed his English test because he left his backpack at school and couldn’t study. Wouldn’t it be better to have him learn, at a young age, the consequences of not studying and not having his materials with him rather than learning it in high school or college because you called the school to get a custodian to let you back into the building late at night? As tempting as it is, we parents need to stop bailing our children out of holes they have dug for themselves (even if they are accidental holes).
As I am the queen of borrowing tips and ideas from others and trying them out in my own parenting, I’d love to hear some new ideas to add to my parenting toolbox. How are you all empowering your child for success and how have you been able to keep their momentum going?