Raising the Bar: Helping Your Kids Find Their Strengths
Every parent wants to raise confident, happy kids. Eventually that confidence will shine through in other aspects of their life. What can you do to help ensure that your children are as well-rounded and self-assured as they can be? Create a positive, nurturing environment where kids feel comfortable exploring their own strengths. Here's how to start.
- Does your child have a special interest or talent? Nurture it. Maybe she's on her way to being a gifted athlete, or perhaps she has a real eye for drawing. Use those precious after-school hours to engage your child. It doesn't have to be through an over-scheduled, super-organized (and potentially costly) activity, either. Spend time playing catch with your budding softball star or creating a comic strip with your young artist. If you have your own hobby, let her see you enjoying it, too -- she may draw inspiration from you!
- Praise her efforts. Giving kids plenty of positive feedback on their hard work rather than their perceived innate abilities makes them more willing to try new things. When she gets a good grade on a test, congratulate her on the effort it took her to get there rather than simply saying "you're so smart!"
- Adjust her home learning environment to fit her learning style. Some kids are visual learners who might benefit from flash cards; others are more logical and prefer everything super-organized; others are more social in their learning styles and will want to talk everything through with you.
- It's virtually impossible to read too much with your kid. Start when she's young and don't stop. Kids who are read to develop better reading skills themselves and that translates to better success in school later on.
- Enjoy mealtimes together. Gathering around the table for dinneris a great time for the family to relax a little and talk about the day. This family time has been proven beneficial for kids: Studies have shown kids whose families eat dinner together at least five times a week do better in school and are less likely to develop eating disorders.
- Stick to a nighttime schedule. Even for older kids, a regular bedtime is beneficial for ensuring they're well rested for the next day. Shut down all electronics at least 30 minutes before lights-out to ensure a better wind-down.
- This one's easy: Give them plenty of hugs. Beyond just giving you the warm fuzzies, this elemental physical contact will reap real rewards for your child. Children who don't get enough affection can have numerous emotional and learning difficulties stemming from stress. If your child is feeling stressed or upset, a simple hug will make you both feel better.