Want to cultivate the traits your child needs to succeed in school and as an adult? Teach these 6 traits that will help kids succeed.
Encouraging success in kids seems to get a bad rap. We’ve got Tiger Moms who don’t accept anything less than an A, or parents pressuring their kids to succeed at all costs. Kids can’t cope with losing, and admissions tests are given at the preschool level.
No wonder we’re hesitant to wish ambition for our kids, fearful that we’ll end up stressing them out.
But when we look at how to help kids succeed 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.
You see, we need to accept them 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 excel in whatever she chooses to do.
6 traits that help kids succeed
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I read the book The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone, about how and why adults succeed. One of the chapters highlighted traits we’d need to do so.
As I read through them, I realized many of these admirable traits can apply to our kids. In fact, if we teach these now, we can help them succeed from an early start.
Below are six traits that help kids succeed, even at an early age:
1. The ability to thrive with challenges
Kids who can face challenges with a can-do attitude are bound to succeed. They’re the ones who don’t see challenges as obstacles or reasons 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 we’ll find you a more challenging one.”
And don’t avoid challenges yourself. Instead, acknowledge its difficulty and face it head on. She’ll see your eagerness to solve problems, understand that they’re inevitable, and embrace the lessons.
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2. The discipline to do the job
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. Kids need the self-control to do what it takes to reach their goals.
Start a reading habit every night, or encourage your child 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 her understand that success comes with effort and “showing up.” You don’t get somewhere by chance or luck—you put in the hard work and then see the results.
3. The vision to see the positive side of mistakes
Kids who learn to embrace mistakes will succeed later in life. They see the opportunities and understand that they offer valuable lessons they wouldn’t have learned. 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, you shouldn’t rush her out of sadness or disappointment.
But encourage her 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 familiar with it. Mistakes shouldn’t stop her from pursuing her goals.
4. Persistence and perseverance
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:
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 swing through those monkey bars until she can go from one end to the other.
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 and help her bounce back and try again.
In the past, I needed to watch my language around my kids, and not because of a potty mouth. Instead, it was the way I hovered over them, afraid of the 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. Let’s 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 now trust them more and offer useful feedback like, “Place your foot on this bar.”
Don’t stop your child from challenging himself—let him figure out his own skill level.
Allow him to take risks, no matter how small. Maybe it’s being more self-sufficient, doing things you thought he couldn’t do, or playing with a toy on his own, without your help. Taking risks allows him to learn new things and assess for himself whether to keep going or not.
6. Lifelong learning
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 that she isn’t above others.
A few ways to keep her 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.
The desire to help kids succeed doesn’t mean you’re focused on perfection or that you’re pushing them to the brink. 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 them succeed now and into adulthood—all by drawing out traits they already have.
Get more tips:
- Warning: 5 Things You Tell Your Kids but Probably Shouldn’t
- Top 5 Parenting Myths You Shouldn’t Believe
- 8 Long Term Benefits of Reading to Your Child
- How to Raise a Bright Child
- Raising College Bound Kids (Because It’s Not Too Early to Start!)
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