All parents want their children to succeed. But what is success? Usually we tend to think success equals to achievement. Doing well in school, acing exams, get into the best universities, then get a job with a high standard of living and prestige. This cycle of 'achievement' most often makes the parent proud, but won't necessarily make the child happy.
Happiness is connecting deeply with others and self-actualisation, developing our full potential by accessing our unique gifts, honing them, and sharing them with the world. The passionate pursuit of a goal blesses us with joy if we're willing to wholeheartedly apply ourselves to learning and creating.
So, how can we as parents help our children achieve success with joy?
1) Unconditional Love
-Some parents tend to think, to encourage is to push their child to achieve. But that gives the message that their love depends on whether the child does well or not. Mastery stems from passion that can only spring from within the child. It can't be forced. Children should know that they are loved just the way they are. They should not be judged according to their presumed achievements.
-Respect is appreciating our unique child wherever he is in his development. We should honour their natural process of exploration and discovering for themselves, rather than feeling we must rush in to teach and rescue. We may expect our child to apply himself in school to the best of his ability, but we don't force him to sacrifice his own curiosity and personal interests in order to achieve on standardised tests. We shouldn't rush milestones according to social standards. The child will get there when they are ready. Rushing them instills distrust and the achieved milestone might not be of his full potential.
-Scaffolding is a structure around a building as it's being built. The scaffolding we provide for our child is what allows him to build his own inner structure to become successful at a given behaviour or task. This can be done by:-
*Routines and habits: Always put things back in their place as soon as we're done with them.
*Expectations for behaviours: Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.
*A safe environment: Safety gates and low shelves limits the "NO" 's that we have to enforce to our babies for instance. This encourages safe exploration and builds curiosity.
How to Encourage Mastery
# Affirm the value of joy for its own sake
- It's not just about achievement. Mastery is about the joy of exploration and learning, which motivates the child to keep practising. If she loves swimming, let her swim, support her and follow her lead.
# Affirm your child's ability to impact the world
-If she likes nature and wildlife, show her the impact of learning about animals, endangered species and how we can play a role in protecting the wildlife. It could be a simple act of not encouraging circus animals and caged animals. We can bring her to visit rescued animals in shelter. It will promote children to think that their interest can make a change and impact the world.
# Praise effort, not results
-Even if her 'product' is not perfect, encourage the process. Process matters, never the product.
# Support her in discovering her own Passions
-Children are motivated when they pursue something that's important to them rather than a goal we generate for them. Kids discover their passions through self-directed exploration. Their passion might change over time, but they always deserve our respect.
I read about achieving mastery in a parenting book, Calm Parents, Happy Kids by Dr.Laura Markham. Her suggestions are really wonderful and I tried my best to adhere and apply it to my family. My daughter showed interest on animals since young.We got her books about farm animals and endangered species. We took her to farms, animal shelters, natural history museums, wildlife national parks and whale-watching. Her free play would always be based on animals, building shelters for them and drawing and painting various faunas. She tags along to the vet clinic for our pet's follow-ups. We even visited the vet faculty of her favourite author, James Herriot,
during our trip to Europe. She might change her passion after a few years, but her journey in discovering her interest is full of joy and wonder. Most importantly, she will realise that no matter what her interest is, we, as parents would always love and support her journey.