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.
I believe our kids are the key to the future of the world and, as parents, we have a lot of influence while our children are still learning and growing. We set ourselves as our kids’ role models. Consciously and unconsciously, we pass on to them what we know, what we believe, and what we value. This is why partnering with parents in teaching life lessons and soft skills to get kids prepared for the world has become my key purpose in life. I hope that through my experience in teaching communications in university and in NLP training and coaching, I’ll be able to equip you with more tangible methods so that you can be your children’s life teacher, too!
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