As parents, it is our sole priority to ensure that our children have the tools necessary to not only survive, but thrive. And in a world filled with information, it can be hard to discern what is useful and what is not.
Thankfully, Michele Borba, a parenting expert, psychologist, and best-selling author of “Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine” provides some very useful information on how we can help our kids to flourish. According to Borba, who started her career teaching at-risk children who came from difficult backgrounds, certain skills can ensure success.
Here are the skills she shares:
There is a major difference between self-esteem and self-confidence, despite parents often mistaking the two. Borba explains “real self-confidence is an outcome of doing well, facing obstacles, creating solutions, and snapping back on your own.” Rather than doing tasks for your child and solving all of their problems, Borba suggests allowing your child to overcome obstacles on their own.
Many people mistake empathy for something that is engrained in us, without teaching. However, empathy is a skill much like anything else. Borba says that children need to have an emotional vocabulary to develop deeper empathy. To do this-help your child label their emotions, ask them emotional questions (“How did that make you feel?”) share your feelings and point out the feelings of others.
Self-control is also taught- and Borba says it can be helpful to give children signals. Examples of this are the school bell ringing, but she says parents can develop signals and cues of their own. “I need your attention in one minute,” or “Are you ready to listen?” are both good cues.
“Integrity is a set of learned beliefs, capacities, attitudes, and skills that create a moral compass children can use to help them know — and do — what’s right,” Borba explains. Part of our job in helping with this is to provide expectations to our children. However, the biggest and most important contributor is to allow them space to develop their compass.
Curiosity is intrinsically linked to intelligence. And there are many ways in which parents can spark curiosity in their children. Examples are providing your child with gadgets and open-ended toys. Even something as simple as pipe cleaners, blocks, and paper clips can open their mind to new possibilities.
When children are under pressure, perseverance is what will push them through. Oftentimes, Borba says that kids end up giving up when they feel overwhelmed. To thwart this, she encourages parents to teach kids to break large tasks up into smaller ones, so they feel more obtainable.
Optimism is extremely beneficial because it allows children to view obstacles in a positive light, which also makes them much more likely to succeed. And optimism is something that starts with us, as parents. Children pick up on how we speak to ourselves and others. Be careful to remain optimistic, rather than pessimistic.