Conscientious parents want to do what is right for their kids. After all, we all want our children to not just get by when they grow up but also to be successful in what they set their minds to do. For this to happen, we need to help them develop the proper mindset while they are still young.
The mindset that I'm referring to is called growth mindset, which determines if someone can thrive. The term was coined by developmental psychologist Carol S. Dweck to refer to the underlying belief that hard work, training, and persistence open the way for people to reach their objectives. In her work about the mindset psychological trait, she said that kids with a growth mindset are more likely to cope with challenges and difficulties.
When our children develop a growth mindset, they will take setbacks or failures positively. They would know that learning from their experience is how they can improve themselves. They will be able to accept that people have different talents and if they work hard, they can improve theirs.
Along with this, the Stanford University professor also named another type of belief. Called fixed mindset, it is when a person believes that success is dictated by one's innate abilities and talents. A child who does not overcome this kind of mindset will think that any kind of setback or failure is because of their lack of ability, talent, and intelligence.
For instance, when a child says, "I'm no good at sports/math/arts," then he or she has established a belief that being good at the subject or skill depends on one's ability – one that is set and unchangeable – which they think they are lacking. In other words, the kid has a fixed mindset and has already given up on the possibility of learning and improving.
On the other hand, if the child learns to say, "I'm not yet good at sports/math/arts" or "If I practice more, then I'll learn how to do it better," then he or she opens the way for improvement. The kid is willing to put in some effort to achieve success.
There are many reasons why our kids need to develop a growth mindset. Let us look at three of them:
To quote a quick example, Kodak had 170,000 employees in 1998 and sold 85 percent of all photo paper worldwide, but in just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
At the speed the world is changing, the future is becoming more and more unpredictable. We all have to be equipped with the right attitudes and frame of mind so that we can keep up with – or move ahead of – the world's exponential change.
To put it simply, kids need to develop a growth mindset in order to cope. In the same way that we do things differently from how people did them a couple or so decades ago, so our kids and grandkids will do things differently from us.
Kids, more than ever, need to be able to cope with the changes that will happen in their lifetime by believing that they can improve their talents, abilities, and intelligence through effort and hard work. The kind of mindset they have can influence their chances of achievement – if they believe they can grow and learn, they will have more positive attitude towards success and failure.
Both kids and adults can learn just about anything we want. It is not only because we can now easily find information on the internet but also because humans have a basic instinct to grow and improve. We want to discover, learn, and find out about things. We get dissatisfied when there is no change or improvement in our lives.
At the same time, though, we also have an inclination to resist change. And a lot of times, this resistance to change is the result of us being fearful. We like to hold on to what's familiar and comfortable because we are afraid of the uncertainty that change is going to result in.
Kids with a growth mindset will confidently strive for improvement and achieve the best they can be. Like other people in the world, they will have fear, they will have doubts, but it's the belief that they can conquer all these fears and doubts through taking action that matters most.
Children with a growth mindset know that with hard work and persistence, they will keep on improving until they reach their objectives. Martial artists with a black belt achieved their standing because of years of practice and training. Similarly, weightlifters did not start out lifting hundred-pound weights but started out with lighter weights and moved up gradually. People who speed-read, sew clothes, and even play complicated computer games also went through the process of learning, practice, improvement, and mastery.
All in all, it takes a kid with a growth mindset to achieve mastery in anything.
According to a research on brain plasticity, experience and practice can change the connectivity between neurons – current connections are strengthened, new connections are made, and the speed of transmission of impulses is increased. In other words, we can improve neural growth in our brain by how we act, and the way we act and behave is influenced by our belief that our mind is malleable and can grow.
Here are a few strategies we parents can use in our daily lives to help our kids develop a growth mindset:
In a study with 5th graders, Dweck divided the children into two groups and asked them to work on a puzzle task. After succeeding initially, they praised one group for their intelligence and ability and the other group for their effort. When the initially easy task became harder, the groups reacted very differently.
They found that kids who are praised for their intelligence and ability (e.g., You're really smart!) think that their success is due to their natural ability, and failure is because they don't have it. This results to them becoming less persistent, preferring easier tasks to ensure success.
On the other hand, children who are praised for their effort and hard work (e.g., It seems you really worked hard to do this!) are educated to have the power and control to change the situation. They are more likely to look forward to challenges and believe that their performance can still be improved. Failure for them is just a part of the challenge.
We praise our kids as a means of encouragement and appreciation, but our words can have an impact on our kids' mindset. So let’s change our language in our daily lives!
|Instead of saying …||Why not say …|
|You're so good at this.||I see you put a lot of effort into this.|
|You're intelligent like your mom/dad.||Your hard work is paying off.|
|It seems you weren't born to be an artist/athlete/math wizard.||It seems you don't get this yet.|
|This looks too easy for you. You really are smart.||This looks too easy for you. How about trying out something more challenging?|
Adults play an important role in the mindset of children. A 2012 study found that educators with a fixed mindset are more likely to judge students as having low potential. Their beliefs lead them to comfort students who get bad results rather than help them build a strategy to improve. Worse still, a separate study found that this comfort-oriented feedback is linked to lower motivation in students who are not performing well and also leads to lower expectations for their own performance.
There are also studies that show animals who live alone just eat and sleep all the time. This behavior is unlike that in animals who live in challenging environments with different toys and other animals to interact with. Those in the latter group have to constantly figure out how to use the toys and how to get along with their companions, so they have more connections between the nerve cells in their brains. The connections were found to be bigger and stronger, too.
So as parents or educators, we need to remind ourselves that the brain is like a muscle. The more our kids use their brain, the stronger it will get. Learning new things, challenging their minds, and practicing will help their brain cells grow.
Affirmation is one important tactic that we can teach our kids. When we say positive statements, we are opening the way for them to keep on moving forward to reach their objectives. Here are some of them:
- Things are difficult before they are easy.
- Babies aren’t stupid – they are growing and learning every day.
- I am helpful, hopeful, and worthy.
- Every problem has an answer.
- I can do it.
- I learn from my mistakes.
- Every day brings new opportunities.
- Whatever I do, I give my best.
- Problems are challenges to a better me.
- I am ready to seize the opportunities of the day.
Studies show that growth mindset improves kids' performance because it shifts the way they think about themselves.
So, let us learn and use the growth feedback and help our kids develop a growth mindse
Some of the behaviors little kids exhibit can be downright baffling and, often, rather frustrating. Some parents even feel embarrassed of how their kids talk and act and resort to calling them names like "brat," "spoiled," "defiant," "unruly," or "bad." But instead of giving them insulting and degrading labels, I’d rather treat these behaviors as clues to what is going on in a child's mind. Their actions and reactions are actually valuable unconscious messages that reflect what they are feeling or lacking.
Now, let us dig deeper into the real reasons behind some troubling everyday behaviors that kids exhibit:
- This is a sign of frustration.
- The child is trying to release negative energy.
- Kids who find the urge to control other people and situations may have an underlying fear that their needs are not going to be met.
- Bossy behavior may also stem from mimicking their parents or characters on TV.
- This may also be due to a need to feel important or getting what they want.
- Healthy competition even among siblings is natural, but a child who tries to be or appear to be better than his or her brothers and sisters is likely to be seeking to be valued more as a person.
- Taunting their siblings may be their way of getting attention and/or gaining control.
- Disrespectful kids are showing that they are not connected to the person.
- It can also be because the grownups around them break promises or show behaviors that go against their own teachings (e.g., lying, bashing the neighbors, cursing the boss, and so on).
- When kids don't listen, it can be because they think that grownups don't acknowledge them or their desires.
- It can also because they get nagged too often, too many points are being tackled all at once, or either the child or the parent is busy doing something else while the one-way discussion is ongoing.
- Lack of self-esteem can be because the child is given too much advice (told what to do) but does not receive enough encouragement from parents and caretakers.
- It can also be because they receive criticisms even for a job well done (not getting a perfect score in tests, not folding clothes properly, missing a spot when coloring, etc.)
- Kids who receive help too quickly even for minor matters tend to not develop enough confidence in themselves.
- This is a signal that the child is overly excited.
- He or she might not be getting enough of your attention.
- Hiding the truth may be because an adult overreacted to a mistake the child made in the past.
- It can also be an expression of the child's active imagination.
- This indicates that the child is tired, exhausted, and/or not getting enough sleep.
- The kid might be feeling overwhelmed or over-stimulated.
- Kids who show signs of defiance may want to feel more competent and respected, to be treated as an individual and not a robot that can be ignored and/or ordered around.
- Also, they might have the desire to be heard and understood.
- This can be signal that the child is unable to cope with the situation.
- This may also be their way of getting attention or listened to.
Little kids are still too young to express themselves fully. Even big kids are not as equipped as adults in conveying their thoughts and emotions in a more socially acceptable way. Thus, as parents, it is important to remind ourselves that all behavior, even problem ones, is a form of communication and there is always a reason behind it.
Also, oftentimes, a child who has tried several times to communicate with adults about what he needs but his needs remain unmet will use negative behavior as a way of sending out a very loud message. The only real way to minimize or stop challenging behavior is by helping our kids explore the meaning behind it and to suggest a positive replacement for it.
When adults help children find positive ways to communicate their needs to others, the kids learn important social and problem-solving skills that will help them throughout their lifetime.
Psychology for Effective Parenting reveals many powerful communication techniques that are usually reserved for psychologists and therapists. My aha moment arrived on pg. 36, when the author spoke about how the brain registers the word “don’t.” That information alone will help parents reset their instructions so they can increase listening and cooperation. The book is filled with many such hints. I highly recommend this to all parents.
All children learn ABC as a start to pick up English. For parents, there’s actually another set of ABC to learn and master in life. This ABC model helps parents and children change unhelpful or unhealthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
You may have observed how kids (and even grownups) react differently toward certain situations. For example, it rains heavily on a long-awaited picnic day and the trip gets cancelled. One child gets very upset, throws a tantrum, and refuses to talk to his parents. Another child, while also initially upset, finds something to do indoors instead. Many might conclude that the first child is simply reacting to the event (the cancellation of the picnic because of the rain), but if it’s the event that has created the resultant response, then everyone should be behaving the same ways. So what makes the difference, though, is the way we think. And this is what the ABC model is about.
This is the situation or specific event and is usually something that cannot be controlled.
For example, your daughter’s friend cannot go to their planned playdate because her relatives arrived at their house.
Once the event takes place and the person interprets it, they form beliefs. These beliefs can be either rational or irrational.
With the above example, your daughter might react negatively and conclude that her friend cannot be relied upon. On the other hand, she might react more sensibly and think that being with her relatives is a special and rare occasion for her friend and that the two of them can just play next time.
This part involves the thoughts and feelings that the person harbors, as well as the actions they take, after forming those beliefs.
For instance, if your daughter comes up with the belief that her friend cannot be trusted, she may start to mope or get angry or she might start avoiding her friend all together. Meanwhile, if the belief is positive, then your daughter could find something else to do to fill her time and look forward to when she’d meet her friend again.
In a nutshell, though we cannot change A, if we can change B, then we can change C. Also, with C being the activating event of somebody else, changing C is actually going to change A of a new event.
The key to knowing ABC model is that it will give you higher level of awareness when you or your loved ones are responding to certain event negatively. With awareness, you will then have the options to review what has happened and even change your thinking to get a different result, rather than treating yourself as the victim without anything to do.
(A) I failed in math test
(B) I will never be able to understand those difficult math concept
(C) Lost interest in math study
(A1) I failed in math test
(B1) I am not studying hard enough
(C1) I will practice more for my next test
Sometimes a limiting belief will cause us to make a negative judgment or conclusion. With awareness, we can ask ourselves whether there are other possibilities that will turn our conclusion into a more constructive one, one that can benefit ourselves more. In example 2, having a total different belief is actually causing a completely different action to take. You can expand your options by thinking of more different possibilities. These are just a few of the possible options:
I failed in math test à I haven’t mastered this specific concept well enough à I am going to seek help to understand this math concept better
I failed in math test à Though I’m not good at math, it’s important for me to master the subject as it will help me move on with other subjects I’m more interested
I’m bringing up the ABC model here because I think it’s equally important for kids to learn this ABC as the ABC in letter. It will help parents understand our kids better so that we can find ways to expand their thinking for more constructive responses. While we cannot change what will happen to us, we can guide our kids to focus on changing their irrational thinking or limiting believes.
What if I've made the wrong decision?
What if we didn't have kids?
What if we eat pizza rather than Chinese food?
What if we had a son instead of a daughter?
What if we save more money?
"What if" is a question that we commonly use in our daily lives, but because we often ask it unconsciously, we don't usually notice it. For instance, in the back of your mind, you might ask yourself, "What if I do this instead of that?" or "What if I take this direction rather than the other?"
In coaching, "what if" is actually seen as a very powerful tool to get a client out of a "stuck state." Asking it consciously opens up bigger possibilities and might even bring a person to an AHA moment. Utilizing the "what if" thinking allows us to maximize the present while securing the future.
However, asking "what if" incorrectly can become a limiting belief that keeps you from moving forward. "What if I make a blunder" and "what if I say the wrong thing" are two examples of questions that can hold you back instead of help you move ahead.
The question is so powerful that it can build you up when used positively, but it can also create damage when asked in a negative context. In particular, "what if" questions can make kids with different levels of anxiety worry or fear more. Questions like the following can keep them from being the best they can be:
This type of questions can prevent your child from taking action. It would be best to bring the question out in the conscious level rather than let it eat away at the back of their mind, and reword it in a more positive or neutral way.
For instance, the question "What if I hurt myself doing this?" can be shortened to "What if I do this?" This opens up the possibilities of experiencing something new, enjoying himself and, yes, maybe even getting hurt and learning in the process. The second question above can be reworded to "What if I just go ahead and introduce myself?" and the last one can be reworded to "What if I try?"
As parents, we need to be aware that "what if" can have three outcomes. Let us imagine Anne asking herself, "What if I ask Mary to play with me?"
1. What If --> Positive Scenario --> Moves you forward
In the best case scenario, Mary and Anne become good friends. This builds Anne's confidence, it improves her social life, and she learns that making friends is not so hard.
2. What If --> Negative Scenario --> Stops you or moves you backward, makes you regret
In the worst case scenario, Mary turns down Anne's invitation. This then results in Anne feeling rejected and upset, and she loses confidence in herself.
2. What If --> Neutral Way --> Ecology Check
The most likely scenario is that Mary accepts Anne's invitation. They play together, and what happens after depends on how well they get along.
In other words, asking "what if" in different scenarios can produce different results. Here are other examples:
|Situation||Best Case Scenario||Worst Case Scenario||Most Likely Outcome|
|What if I ask them if I can join the game?||You eventually become the best player and the other kids marvel at your skills.||The other kids say no and you feel dejected.||The other kids let you join.|
|What if I audition for the play?||You land the major role.||You don’t make the cut and you feel embarrassed.||You gain a new experience and learn something from it.|
|What if I draw this idea?||You draw your idea accurately.||Your drawing is not what you want it to be.||You produce a good-enough representation of your idea.|
Now that you’re conscious about how "what if" plays on the mind and body, you can pay more attention to your kid's behavior and see if they’re using the question to move forward or to not take action. You can also help them use the question more intentionally – to bring it to the conscious level – so they can be aware if it is preventing them from reaching their goals.
Most kids are fidgety and do not or cannot stay in one place for long. They also tend to shift from one subject to another during conversation, and they are likely to change activities when they’ve had enough of the first one. Because they generally do not have a long attention span – not in the same way that grownups do anyway – some parents tend to judge their kids as having attention problems.
I did a non-official research on this matter and three of four or 75 percent of parents I talked to think that their kids exhibit a certain level of attention problem. To be more specific, their claims are based mostly on reasons like their kids not being able to sit properly, not able to concentrate, are easily distracted, make careless mistakes with their homework, and so on. Often, the parents’ concern is due to their belief that these behaviors can affect their children’s learning effectiveness and their success in their studies.
I’m writing this article to give parents another perspective from which to look at the situation: instead of immediately thinking of sending your child to training or therapy to improve their concentration and/or attentiveness, it would be a good idea to re-evaluate them first. This means paying extra attention to those instances when they are doing things that they are genuinely interested in.
For example, observe when your son or daughter is reading, drawing, playing board games, having a pretend tea party, building a fort, or doing another activity that they enjoy. If they are able to do it for a significant amount of time, then it is likely that there is no problem with their concentration.
In contrast, kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lack the ability to concentrate, even on things that are generally interesting for most kids. Their inattention, impulsiveness, and unfocused motor activities tend to be more severe and occurs more often.
Being a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) coach for more than 10 years, the most common concerns I hear from parents are:
1. their kids are not attentive enough
2. their kids exhibit bad academic performance, and
3. their kids fail to control their emotions.
Interestingly, though, among the children I’ve seen, those with real attention or concentration problems (who fail in the concentration test I’ve given them) are actually the rare breed.
So why do some parents think their kids have concentration problems even though they’re tested normal? Here are few possible reasons:
If kids live in insecure environment, it’s difficult for them to concentrate and finish tasks that they would otherwise be able to do if they feel more secure.
For instance, kids cannot have a sense of stability and security if they move to a new house or apartment often. They would have to keep on adjusting to each new place and to try to fit in. Being a new kid in a neighborhood or school is not very easy for many children.
Another example would be kids who are exposed to fights between their parents. They become fearful and feel unsafe in their own home. Ugly words, raised voices, sarcastic remarks – these affect kids more than many grownups can comprehend.
Kids who face these types of situations tend to blame themselves and start believing that they are the problem or a part of it.
To help your child with their concentration, is important to provide them with a secure and comfortable home and learning environment. Also, consistency in your parenting style is vital – you should avoid contradicting yourself, or the grownups in the house should not give conflicting rules or even signals.
Should change be unavoidable, make sure that your child understands that it’s not them who created the mess or they are not responsible for it.
In many cases, our kids exhibit inappropriate behavior either because they are curious about how the grownups would react or because they are trying to get some attention. In either case, their means of getting noticed is by doing naughty things. After all, negative attention is still attention.
However, behaviors like being talkative in class, walking around instead of sitting, and other inappropriate acts tend to create the impression that the child has concentration problems.
To minimize inappropriate behavior, you should avoid over-reacting when your child is being naughty. Rather, state clearly what correct behavior you want to see in them. Also, give more notice to correct actions. For instance, if your child tends to leave the water running in the bathroom, thank them when they do turn the faucet off rather than scold them every time they forget. This way, they would resort to gaining positive attention for positive behavior instead of exhibiting negative behavior to gain negative attention.
More importantly, make time for your child. When they speak, turn away from the computer screen, face them, and listen attentively. When you’re reading or doing other activities together, turn off your phone’s ringer. Spend more time with your child so they don’t resort to other things just to get your attention.
There are usually underlying reasons why kids are unable to focus, and one of them is that they don’t understand. It could be that they can’t grasp the lesson because it’s beyond their ability level, or they don’t know why they have to do a particular activity. For example, a child may question why they have to go to school or why have to do their homework.
Not being able to understand a concept or not knowing the underlying reason behind what they’re doing usually leads to frustration. Therefore, it’s important for parents to observe what their kids are having difficulty with and provide an explanation when needed.
For example, if your child is having difficulty with math and is asking what it is good for in real life, you can use their interests to explain. Say that scientists use it to measure the distance between planets and stars, or to figure out how deep the sea is, or to find out how fast a storm is moving. Without math, no one would know how old or how tall they are.
Moreover, choose age-appropriate activities for your child. When they not doing an activity properly, say playing the piano, motivate them by explaining why they need to practice. Arousing your child’s interest in various tasks is far more important than finishing them.
I’ve seen parents who arrange a full-day schedule of activities for their children of only 3 or 4 years old. These include learning Spanish, attending drawing class, piano class, swimming class, and many others. The parents then complain to me that their kids have lost motivation and are not passionate about what they do.
While it’s okay to let children try various activities, it’s not okay to force them into any or all of them, just because it interests us or it would make our child look impressive. Kids, although young, will have a sense of what they like or dislike. Instead of pre-arranging everything for them, only to turn out that they have no interest at all, why not let them decide what they want to do and learn?
We all care about the growth and development of our own kids, but always remind yourself that the kids are also responsible for their own growth and development. We should let them experience the process and take responsibility for the consequences.
For example, I see some parents perceive kids’ homework time as their own homework time – they sit next to their children to make sure they complete the work. Unfortunately, they are actually educating the kids that homework is their parents’ responsibility. This then results in the pupils’ inability to do their own work properly when their parents are not there to help.
It’s possible that the little ones may create mistakes when you are not next to them. It’s possible that they may run around instead of sitting quietly when they are working on their homework. Just let them do that, let them experience the process, let them know what consequences will come with how they behave.
Next time, before you think of sending your kids to some sort of attention / concentration training, do think about the things you can do in order to motivate them. Children are natural born learners and they are curious about anything. Make things fun for them, let them do things that suit their age, and arrange a suitable amount of activities for them to do. Pay them proper attention but give them room to grow. Let them enjoy their life as kids, the time when they are learning and growing and experiencing new things, and they will have great things to look back to when they grow up.
I think we have all heard of the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Unfortunately, a lot of times, people fail in achieving what they want because they do not believe in themselves enough or they do not have enough ideas on the how’s. Worst of all, they are too overwhelmed to take action.
In this article, I’m going to show you how you can achieve anything by guiding yourself through four powerful coaching questions. This method is so simple that you can use it to guide not just yourself but also your children so they, too, can achieve what they want. This includes anything from being potty trained to getting better grades in school to learning a new skill or winning in a competition. It will help you and your kids gain more confidence and clarity on how to reach your respective goals.
Now, take a few minutes to complete the set of questions below and see its power. While answering, truly immense yourself in a state wherein you can connect with your inner self.
Power Question 1: Where are you right now?
This is the situation you are currently in.
Power Question 2: Where do you want to be in one year?
This is the goal you want to reach within the next 12 months. One year is the maximum timeframe you should set for yourself in order to make the goal achievable and actionable.
Power Question 3: What resources do you currently have?
These are the things that you have right now that will help you achieve your goal.
Power Question 4: What resources are you missing?
These are the additional resources you need so you can reach your goal.
After you answer these four questions, you should have a clear picture of the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. To close that gap, all you have to do is list down three actions that you intend to take. Doing this will give you an uncomplicated but solid action plan that will propel you forward toward your goal.
To move yourself to the next level, you can go through these Powerful Questions again after you’ve reached your first year goal.
The beauty of this exercise is that it’s so simple and yet so powerful that it can be applied to kids as young as 3 years old. It will help them have a clear view of what actions they need to take to achieve what they want to achieve. This exercise will train them to flex their brains as well as build an action-taking habit for future success.
Action is the foundational key to all success, so take action now and help your children and yourself improve day after day!
Many grownups look at kids as "just kids" and so they fail to see how much potential the little ones actually have. I am writing this article to show parents that, contrary to what some think, children can accomplish a lot of things, and if we try to be open to what our own kids are capable of achieving, we can guide and coach them so they can reach their full potential.
Children master different skills at different ages. While they are still young, we monitor their developmental milestones to make sure they are growing healthily. However, as they get older, we tend to focus more on how they are doing at school – we refer to the results and comments on their report cards as though these are the only factors that determine whether or not our kids are on the right track.
Some parents also observe other kids of similar age and use their performance as a benchmark for their own son's or daughter's accomplishments (or seeming lack of achievements). They get worried if the neighbor's kids are getting higher grades or are more active in sports or are winning in competitions.
The thing is, the conventional benchmarks that we often use – the grades they get in school and the performance of the kids around us – do not reflect what our kids are capable of achieving. They do not even come close to representing a particular percentage in research terms for us to judge if we are giving them enough room to reach their full potential. Sometimes, these even create limiting beliefs on us, which confines our view on how much our children can actually do.
When we use a traditional measuring bar to track our kids' development, we sometimes miss out on the opportunity to see their unique capabilities. We fail to see the world as a big place and that people around the world are diversified and unpredictable.
Don't get me wrong – I'm not a tiger mom who pushes children to be successful by attaining high levels of scholastic and academic achievements. On the contrary, I do not believe that academic achievement means success in life nor do I think that we should push children to do things they're not yet ready to do.
I am a firm believer that every child is gifted in different areas – they just unwrap their packages at different times. They have their own talents, strengths, and interests, and it is our duty as parents to help our kids realize what the are capable of achieving.
Here, I am going to share with you stories of kids who have impressive achievements that parents may not have imagined any child to be capable of accomplishing. Let me just emphasize – I’m sharing these stories not to say that you should push your kids to do the same. What I’m trying to do here is to make sure we, the parents, have more resourceful beliefs and pass it on to our children so that they are more imaginative and are more open-minded to larger possibilities in the world.
He launched his book at age 13, which became a New York Times best seller.
A typical kid who loves playing and watching sports, hanging out with friends, and wishing for snowy days, Jake Marcionette, at age 12, decided to get an agent because he wanted to become a writer. Jake told us that he started to write in elementary school not because of some burning passion for sharing his thoughts but because his mom forced him to write during the summer holiday.
His love for writing grew after few years of practice, and the idea of publishing his own book was sparked because he was annoyed by the fact that most middle-grade fiction were written for girls. Throughout the process, Jake tried cold-calling agents and, by 2013, he had an agent and a publication deal with Penguin’s Young Readers Group.
Now Jake doesn’t only have one but a series of books written. He’s been interviewed by media and was invited to TV shows, and his life exposure has grown multifold since then.
He started his company at 14 and became the youngest CEO of a multinational company.
Suhas Gopinath of Bangalore, India, decided to forego school in favor of going to a local Internet café. There, he taught himself how to work the Internet, but since the service was expensive in the country back then, he worked as a clerk at the store for free just to be able to use the Internet.
"I was overwhelmed by the world of Internet," he said. "It became a passion. Though my parents were completely against it, I would spend hours before the computer. My elder brother Shreyas encouraged a lot. I learnt HTML, ASP and every possible software at the cyber cafe."
Suhas started his company at 14 and became the youngest CEO of XXX at age 17. His business ventures started with an idea to build a website. His parents refused to give him the money and so he wrote to Network Solutions, Inc. in the United States for support. On the same year he built the site www.coolhindustani.com, Suhas set up Global, Inc., a web solutions and networking company with a team of four.
Now, he has offices in 11 countries and a turnover of $1 million annually.
He sold his paintings at £900 each when he was 7 years old.
Kieron Williamson, a watercolor artist from England, has been described as a prodigy – he began to paint at the age of five on a family holiday, and by the time he was seven, he was already selling his paintings for at least £900 each. At only 13, his paintings have already made him a millionaire.
What’s worth focusing on in Kieron’s case is not how lucky he is in getting people to appreciate his paintings but rather how his parents view his success.
"He's a very lucky boy, but as parents we just have to say no to a lot of things to give him a normal life," they said. "The most important thing is that he can relate to his peers and not be seen as any different."
He is an extraordinary entrepreneur at 14 years old.
"I am a kid, I know that," said young entrepreneur Caleb Maddix. "I get punished, I learn lessons. I like to play baseball, rollerblade and all that. I’m not trying to grow up too fast; actually as slowly as possible. I want to enjoy everything I do."
Caleb, a normal and yet extraordinary kid, is going to earn his millions 2 years in a row. What fascinates me is not how much he earns but his attitude that has driven him to success. He is an action-taking type of kid who thinks "the gun that kills the most people is the 'gonna'". Unlike most kids (or even adults) who always put off to tomorrow what they want to do, Caleb one day sat down and asked himself, "I wanna write a book, why can’t I do it now? I want to start a business and post stuff on social media, I want to speak. Why can’t I?"
Apart from his action-oriented personality and his mission to make a change in the world, Caleb is getting a lot of support and influence from his dad Matt Maddix, the "older" entrepreneur and motivational speaker.
So, while we can’t determine the strengths and weaknesses of our little ones, we should always set them up with the right attitude for life.
He figured out a way to keep lions away from their livestock.
Richard Turere, a 13-year-old boy from Kenya, started herding his family’s cattle when he was just nine. He grew up disliking lions when he saw his valuable livestock being raided by the predators that roam the park’s sweet savannah grasses, leaving him to count the losses. So at age 11, he decided it was time to find a way of protecting his family’s possessions from falling prey to hungry lions.
With this mission and a little observation, Richard realized that lions are afraid of moving lights, so he fitted a series of flashing LED bulbs onto poles around the livestock enclosure, facing outward. The lights were designed to flicker on and off, tricking the lions into believing that someone was moving around carrying a flashlight.
His invention earned him the scholarship to enter a top-notch educational institute, and it also gave him the exposure to work with executives from the Kenya Land Conservation Trust and Friends of Nairobi National Park.
Richard is described to be a very good problem solver and if you give him a problem, he will keep working at it until he can fix it.
These kids mastered piano playing at age 5, 4 or even 3 years old.
This last story I’m going to tell is not about one kid but a bunch of kids who were able to master piano playing as early as 3 years old. I’m quoting this example because I know their piano teacher, Mr. Yau, and I know how these kids were trained.
Tsung Tsung, Joey, Charlotte, and Lilian have videos that took YouTube by storm. They have impressed millions of people. One may immediately think of them as geniuses, but in actual fact, they are only normal kids who have the interest in playing the piano, and they put more effort in training than many people are willing to do.
While other kids are playing with their toys and watching TV, these kids practice playing the piano. They learned from Mr. Yau, a man who has an amazing system in teaching young kids. They are mentored and coached to dedicate almost 100 percent of their time in playing this one single instrument.
At this point, you might be in utter amazement at what these kids have achieved. The key is, don’t only see what they have accomplished but also look into the whys. Is it because they’re born differently? Is it because they think differently? Or is it only because they put extra effort in what interests them?
The world is changing, and it’s changing at a speed that we can’t imagine. Information is so handy now that one does not have to rely solely on schools to learn something new. If we are interested in an area, we can join some courses, go online, chat with people around us who have knowledge in the topic we are interested in, or go on social media and connect with experts to get ourselves educated about that subject. If there is a will to achieve something, there are certainly many ways to fulfilling it.
I hope I have given you a large variety of cases to show how kids can develop in different ways. If you are still thinking that your kids won’t achieve as much as any of the examples I shared above, I challenge you to take a second look at such limiting belief.
Which do you think would be more beneficial: believing or not believing that your kid can succeed in life? Do you think it helps if you consider your child as "just another kid" or would overcoming that limiting belief drive you into observing and digging deeper on their strengths?
Apart from us believing the potential of our children, it’s also important for us to pass on that belief to them. Tell them stories of these kids, let them explore their own meaning in life and what interests and drives them, and pave the way for them to have a more constructive and meaningful future.
Each year presents a fresh experience for both parents and children, but the years before our kids reach their 6th birthday are among the most exciting, refreshing, and challenging of all. It is the stage in their lives when they need us the most, so we should make it a point to spend time with them.
Before our children turn 6 years old, they rely on us for most things. This is because they are not yet capable of fending for themselves, their bodies and minds are not yet that well-developed so as to do things carefully and precisely, and they do not yet exercise that great impulse or need to be independent in the way that bigger kids and teenagers do. Also, they are learning. This is the time of their lives when they reach many milestones in their development.
For example, toddlers usually start talking and drawing, and they also try to feed themselves. Preschoolers, on the other hand, experience a boost in their imaginations and they may enjoy playing pretend. They also learn new words at a dramatic pace, manipulate objects like simple puzzles, and start making friends. As time goes by, they learn to express their feelings, and might even learn to hide the truth. When they turn 5, they may talk a lot and also become more physically active as they are able to use their bodies more – they are better coordinated and can use a skipping rope, play ball, ride a trike, etc.
The most heartwarming part of having a toddler or preschooler, though, is that they enjoy spending time with us. Our presence not only provides them with security and confidence, it also provides us with the innocent and unconditional love that only children can give.
During this period of drastic physical, mental, emotional, and social development, our kids rely on us to guide them. But while it can be difficult for us grownups to think of things to do with our kids, it’s important to remember that spending time with them is vital for their development.
So, in what ways can we spend time with our kids?
There are many activities that you and your young one can enjoy doing together, but here are three essential ones that you must take the time to do with them each day:
Developing a love for books from a young age is something that your kids would benefit from for the rest of their lives. Not only does reading provide wholesome entertainment, there are also numerous benefits they can gain from it, such as:
· Your children can absorb fresh knowledge in an enjoyable way. Picture books, for instance, provide a wealth of information, like how a spider look like up close, what kinds of creatures live deep in the sea, and what Jupiter or a virus looks like. By reading the captions and descriptions to them and then having a candid discussion after, those pictures can give them knowledge and also encourage them to ask questions.
· Books help develop language mastery and increase vocabulary. Your kids get to learn new words, which helps with their speech and communication.
· Reading, likewise, helps improve imagination. Story books allow them to “see” things in their minds. The descriptions and actions in good stories let them visualize what is only written in text.
· Moreover, reading helps develop discipline and concentration and improves their attention span.
· Depending on what you read to them, stories can also help them learn to distinguish socially acceptable behavior without having to tell them “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” directly.
· Reading to them encourages them to read on their own. They can start recognizing that letters put together in a certain way become a representation of things. This would make it relatively easier to understand what letters mean when they start learning to write.
Children’s books are crafted to provide our little ones with information in a way that they would understand and enjoy. Toddlers who are exposed to reading early on eventually learn to view books and reading as an indulgence, something that they can take pleasure in doing, rather than a chore that they would want to avoid. Moreover, as they grow older, they are more likely to read than watch TV or play video games.
What’s more, reading together is a time for bonding, which would strengthen your relationship with your child.
It is always a good idea for us to listen to music with our kids. It is enjoyable, after all, and is something that just about everyone can understand and take pleasure in. Also, like reading, it has numerous benefits. The long and short of it, music helps in every aspect of child development, including physical, mental, emotional, and social development, their cognition, language, logic, creativity, and their musical ability.
With music, your child’s mind and body work together. They learn sounds and words, they are prompted to use their bodies when they dance and also interpret the lyrics when they do actions. Not only that: it has been proven that music has the ability to stimulate parts of the brain that are related to reading and math. It can also help improve a child’s memory and learning ability. A lot of studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music.
Depending on what kind of music you play and sing, you can either have a relaxing time together or it can prompt dancing or physical movement. When selecting music, though, don’t just base your choice on the melody. Eric Rasmussen, chair of early childhood music at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, says that there is no bad music but advises parents to choose those with age appropriate lyrical content and high musical quality.
There are many household activities that you can do with your child. Toddlers and preschoolers simply love to help grownups and this desire should be encouraged, not discouraged. They should also be shown that housework is not a chore (in the negative sense).
Let your kids get involved when you do housework and assign them things that they can handle. This not only improves their ability to listen, understand, and follow instructions, it also trains their other skills. For example, you can let them take out the clothes from the washing machine and place them in the basket, or you can ask them to sort clothes according to their owner. These help improve their gross motor and sorting skills.
You can also give them the responsibility of feeding the cat, for instance, or setting the place mats and napkins on the table during meals. You can also assign them a patch in the vegetable garden that they should water – this way, they will have a sense of achievement when you harvest, prepare, and eat the crops. You can also provide your kids with a small broom and dustpan, a small rake, perhaps some non-breakable dishes, and other safe items so they can do things with you rather than just watch you do them.
Of course, it’s understandable that you sometimes want to have more private time for yourself. This may prompt you to give a gadget for your kids for them to indulge in or let them watch TV for hours. I have to confess that I did that before as well. Still, I never forget to do the three essential things mentioned above, which have a more positive impact on my kids’ future.
So from now on, no matter how tired you are, always put these three tasks in your and your kids’ schedule!
“Play is the work of the child.” - Maria Montessori
Some parents have the notion that the traditional way of learning – that is, sitting still and listening to lectures, reading textbooks, and answering workbooks – is the best way for their kids to learn and develop skills. At home, they feel better when they see their children poring over a math problem or memorizing a list of vocabulary words than when they see them playing. After all, it is kind of difficult to imagine that the young ones are actually learning anything from tinkering with toys on the floor or from playing tag with their friends outdoors.
What some grownups don’t realize is that, while regular classes and other structured training are certainly useful, academic knowledge is only a small part
The Montessori education is one good example of teaching through play. It gives kids the freedom to work with materials, handle and manipulate them, and gain experience
Contrary to what some might think, unstructured play is not only about letting our kids have fun. Yes, it is enjoyable (thus they don’t feel “bored”) but, without them knowing it, they are also developing various facets of their lives, like their physical bodies, their emotional well-being, and their social skills.
Allowing time for child-directed activities has many other benefits, too, such as:
Children are also more likely to exercise their creativity during these times of free play. They may use normal, day-to-day things as props, like a blanket for a ship’s
Active play lets kids move around. Running with their friends and engaging in other outdoor activities give them exercise, of course, and it helps improve their agility, stamina, speed, strength, and balance, but even indoor play have their benefits.
Using blocks to build towers, painting or coloring, or even putting Mr. Potato Head’s eyes and arms can help a kid’s dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor skills.
Play allows our kids to experience a wide range of emotions, from disappointment at not winning a game to appreciation for the help of their friend. On their own, they can feel joy at being able to draw their mom or dad, or perhaps a sense of triumph at making an impressive tower of blocks. These experiences expose them to their feelings and allow them to learn to cope.
When kids are allowed to touch and feel, see, hear, and experience things first-hand, they acquire knowledge and develop better understanding. After all, how would they know how rough a tree bark feels if they only see it in books?
Also, with experience comes the skill of making better decisions. Without grownups dictating what they should do next, they can make their choices – should the small block go below or on top of the big one? – and learn from them.
How would our kids develop the confidence to do things if we don’t let them? Play allows our kids to try out new things and then develop the conviction that they can do them – better and better as they try. Of course, they would not be able to cut straight the first few times or ride a bike immediately, but these unsuccessful attempts help develop their resilience to face “the real world.”
Moreover, play can improve a child’s learning behavior and readiness. For instance, the educators at Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas decided to give their kindergarten pupils two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon. They found that the kids have become more independent, better at following directions, and more attentive in class.
Here are some suggestions on what activities your child can have fun doing, alone or with friends:
Of course, you can go beyond one set of toys. Let them mix and match, like using plastic blocks and Knex together along with their character figures. You can also let them exercise their creativity further by making use of what’s at hand instead of buying new toys. For instance, you can allow them to use pillows and blankets to make caves or tents.
When kids play pretend, like being treasure-hunting pirates or restaurant owners and customers, they are discovering their own interests and also expressing what they feel and think. They also assert some independence as well develop some of their physical and social skills.
Playing dress-up or donning costumes makes it more fun, of course, but you don’t necessarily have to buy these. Kids without store-bought get-ups usually come up with their own ingenious costumes – a towel for a cape, for instance, or Wonder Woman bracelets made of paper or foil.
Drawing and coloring are not just fun for kids, these activities also help them develop their fine-motor skills. Also, it’s a way for them to express themselves and how they interpret the world around them. You can provide them with paper and pencils, crayons, coloring books, and other materials.
Play is one of the main ways in which children learn. Because it’s fun, children often become very absorbed in what they are doing, and in turn, this helps them develop the ability to concentrate. There are plenty of other activities that your kids can do – or that you can do with your children – during these child-directed play times, namely singing songs and telling stories, playing memory games or other board games, and letting them explore the environment. After your kids finished playing, you could ask them to tell you about their adventures. Parents showing interest is actually sending the message that their independence is valued.