Want to cultivate the traits your child needs to succeed in school and as an adult? Teach these 6 important traits to guide kids to success.
Encouraging success in kids seems to get a bad rap. We’ve got Tiger Moms who don’t accept anything less than an A. Parents pressuring kids to succeed at all costs. Kids who can’t cope with losing. Admissions tests at the preschool level.
No wonder we’re hesitant to wish ambition and guide kids to success.
But when we look at success for our kids in a different way, we see it’s not always competition and stress. Success is tapping into their potential and drawing out the traits they already have.
We need to accept kids for who they are. We can’t push a child to excel in sports when she’d rather tinker with robots. But we can still be intentional with introducing skills to help her.
6 traits to guide kids to success
I finished reading a book called The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone. The book focuses on how and why adults succeed. One of the chapters highlights traits you’d need to do so.
#1: Be disciplined
In this blog, we talk about discipline as a way of teaching behavior to our kids. But another kind of discipline is the ability to stick through tasks, no matter how difficult. Children need the self-control to do what it takes to reach their goals.
Maybe that means implementing a reading habit every night. Or encouraging your kids to do a good job instead of accepting halfhearted work. Maybe it’s trudging up to tennis practice every day, even in the heat of the summer.
Being disciplined helps your child understand that success comes with effort and “showing up.” You don’t just get somewhere by chance or luck. You put in the hard work and then see the results.
#2: Thrive on challenges
Kids who can face challenges with a can-do attitude are bound to succeed. These are kids who don’t see challenges as an obstacle, or as a reason to give up. Instead, they look for solutions and believe they can reach their goals.
How can you encourage this trait with your child? Phrase challenges and difficulties as a positive thing. If she’s stumped on a puzzle, say, “Awesome—your brain is working hard!” If she breezes through an easy worksheet, apologize and say, “I’m sorry that was too easy. Tomorrow I’ll find you a more challenging one.”
And don’t avoid challenges yourself. Instead, acknowledge its difficulty and face it head on. Your child will see your eagerness to solve problems. She’ll understand that challenges are inevitable. And she’ll see them as a fact of life and embrace their lessons instead.
#3: Embrace mistakes
Kids who learn to embrace mistakes will succeed later in life. They understand mistakes offer valuable lessons they wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They see the opportunities in mistakes. And they don’t tie their worth with mistakes and instead see them as events that happen to everyone.
Making mistakes and losing won’t feel good, no doubt. No one likes to lose a game or feel stumped when their building structures keep falling. This doesn’t mean your child should feel optimistic all the time. In fact, we shouldn’t try to rush kids out of sadness or disappointment.
But encourage your child to embrace mistakes and not let them stop her from continuing. Maybe she needs to find a new strategy to stack those blocks. Or play a game a few more times to get more familiar with it. Mistakes shouldn’t stop her from pursuing her goals.
#4: Be persistent
It’s easy for us to see successful people in the limelight and assume they’re talented or have an upper hand. And sometimes they do have a knack for success. But what most people don’t see are the many obstacles they’ve had to go through. Check out this illustration by Sylvia Duckworth:
It’s not so much talent as it is effort. Teach your child persistence and grit to prepare her for the challenges she’ll face.
Kids are some of the most resilient and persistent among us. Think about the baby learning to walk despite a zillion falls, bumps and scrapes. Or the preschooler who will park himself in front of a puzzle until he completes it. Persistence and grit helps her bounce back and try again and again.
#5: Take risks
In the past, I needed to watch my language around kids, and not because of a potty mouth. Instead, it was the way I hovered over them, afraid of any risks they might see.
If they were standing high on a playground structure, I’d bellow, “Be careful! Don’t go there!” If they reached for a workbook I thought too difficult, I’d say, “That’s too hard. Do this one instead.”
Now I realize that risk taking is important for kids to succeed. Protecting them from everything is impossible and doesn’t do them any good. Rather than shouting “Be careful!” I trust them more and offer useful feedback like, “Place your foot on this bar.” Don’t stop kids from challenging themselves and let them figure out their own skill level.
Allow your child to take risks, no matter how small. Maybe it’s being more self-sufficient, doing things you thought she couldn’t do. Or playing with a toy on her own, without your help. Taking risks allows her to learn new things and assess for herself whether to pursue or not.
#6: Continue to learn
Maybe you’re seeing a pattern with these traits: It’s all about continuing. When faced with a challenge, keep going. When you’re too comfortable, take risks. And when you feel like you’re at the top, continue to learn.
Kids are wired to learn, right from birth. Hone that skill by encouraging your child to keep learning.
Learning never stops, after all. Even the highest achievers have something to learn. Learning is also humbling and reminds your child she isn’t above others.
A few ways to keep your child learning include:
- Taking her to new places like museums and nature spots.
- Point out simple wonders like the patterns on a leaf.
- Including her in household tasks like cooking.
- Encouraging learning, even in the summer or school breaks.
- Reading every day, especially about topics she loves. (I just borrowed a ton of books from the library about jellyfish and Mount Everest.)
Guiding kids to success doesn’t mean you’re focused on perfection or you’re pushing your kids. Instead, you’re teaching them the traits they’ll need to pursue their interests. Things like encouraging hard work, not giving up, and facing challenges head on.
No matter their passion, help your kids succeed now and into adulthood. All by drawing out traits they already have.
Get more tips:
- Are Good Schools Overrated?
- 8 Long Term Benefits of Reading to Your Child
- How to Raise a Smart Child
- 5 Tips to Increase Self Confidence in Kids
- Raising College Bound Kids (Because It’s Not Too Early to Start!)
Tell me in the comments: What is your definition of success? How do you guide kids to success?
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