Raising Kids With Character: 5 Tips to Unleash Your Children’s Potential
What parent doesn't want to raise kids with character? Helping develop giving children, encouraging the next generation of leaders and global citizens, and raising kind and respectful individuals is every parents' dream. Am I right?
I watched this trailer today of an upcoming Disney Movie: Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughan. His character is an underachiever who is trying to figure out his purpose in life. He finds out that 20 years prior, after donating his sperm to a sperm bank, he had fathered 533 kids and 142 of them were suing to find out who their biological father was. He sets out on a quest to learn more about his children and in the process, takes a hard look at himself.
While the film conveys the message that families are not one size fits all, what I found most heartwarming about the trailer was how Vaughan's character observed, supported, and uplifted his children. Take a look!
5 Ways to Raising Kids With Character
Can you relate to feeling love and support from your parents or being supportive of your children during the highest and lowest moments of your/their life/lives?
Whether you have 533 kids or 1 and regardless of the size, shape, color, or make up of your family, here are five action steps every parent can take to raise kids with character and help them unleash their potential:
1. Build Your Children Up in Areas of Excellence
Think of your children as rock stars with you being their biggest fan. Be a groupie, join your kids' fan club, and shout out how proud you are of their accomplishments. When they have what equates to their Grammy moments, clap the loudest and congratulate them in private and public. Help your children know that you champion their talents, skills, and abilities.
If your children struggle in an area, encourage them to practice and be dedicated. However, don't pour on the honey, hoping that overly building them up will cause them to all of a sudden succeed. If their talents do not lie in that area or they are miserable, consider allowing them to shift to a new hobby. If they are in the middle of a team sport or have otherwise committed to something, help them finish gracefully. Being the last one chosen, sitting on the sidelines, and not winning medals or ribbons comes with its lessons too. Believe me, I know! I signed up for every sport imaginable as a child, hoping I'd suddenly get my mom and dad's athletic gene's. Ultimately, I learned to have fun in spite of myself and I learned the importance of being a team player without being a player.
3. Expose Your Children to a Variety of Options
After your children's lessons stop or the season ends, work with them to find an area that speaks to them, that they are good at. Sometimes, children need to try many different lessons before landing on the right sport, musical instrument, hobby, or academic pursuit. For me, it took wading through swim team, golf lessons, softball, volleyball, basketball, and track for me to read the writing on the wall and take dance and explore creative writing. And once I did, I never looked back. I had found what I was good at and what made me happy!
4. Believe in Your Children
When your kids struggle, tell them how much faith you have in them to be able to overcome their fears, conquer obstacles, and summit peaks they may feel ill equipped to climb. While they may need help, love, and support, make sure to allow them to have opportunities for growth. Don't take away those opportunities by completing tasks for them out of a sense of trying to rescue them from their pain. Often, growth is accompanied by pain, but the result is a confident, resilient children ready to accomplish even greater tasks. Raising kids with character requires allowing them to go through their personal challenges and grow into their strengths. The role of the parent is to create a safe environment for them to stumble, fall, get back up, dust themselves off, get a hug and a confidence booster, and try again until they can soar. At that point, they'll have the life lessons and necessary tools to go at it on their own and voila! They'll be off and running, achieving their potential.
How you choose to respond when your child makes a mistake will speak louder than any consequence can. While helping kids learn from their mistakes is one of the roles of being a parent, refraining from anger, resentment, shaming, or other negative behaviors are key in unleashing your children's potential.
When I was in high school, my dad let me drive his car, one that he had had since he was in college. He told me he was entrusting it to me and that I needed to pay attention to things like filling it up with gas before it hit empty and letting him know when the oil was getting low. He even taught me how to check to see if the car needed oil. It was an old car and I couldn't rely on the light to tell me.
Sure enough! I didn't check the oil as often as he had instructed me and it ran out. The engine seized, requiring buying a new engine for the car. If it had been a domestic model or a new car, that would have been bad enough. But, the car was a 1963 Porsche, my dad's baby! Let's just say if I had saved all of everything I earned from my job, it wouldn't have equaled a fraction of what it cost to replace that engine.
I was horrified, guilt ridden, and thought my life was over. But, looking back, the main thing I remember from that experience is the memory of my dad hugging me, letting me know that we're all imperfect and that I made a mistake. He didn't excuse it. But, he loved me through the pain I felt for the mistake and the consequence that followed, which were so overshadowed by my dad's love for me that I can't recall them.
Raising kids with character is certainly no small feat. But building your kids' up, helping them finish things gracefully, exposing them to a variety of options, believing in them, and responding with love when they make a mistake are sure fire ways to unleashing their potential.
What do you do to unleash your children's potential and raise them with character?