What I find scary is that 65% of pupils currently in primary schools will go on to do jobs that do not yet exist. And we have no process in place to help them learn to adapt. The early years’ education in our western schools focuses on reading and comprehension skills over knowledge.
The results of this are devastating, especially for poorer children. The time now devoted to reading and comprehension has significantly grown. The time devoted to science, social studies, arts, creativity and thinking skills has plummeted, especially in schools where test scores are low. The way we teach our children is a subject that I am very passionate about.
In this article, I will address some things parents can do to help start their child’s learning process. I believe the first and most important step in the education of a child is building confidence. The enemies of confidence are discouragement and fear, so, as a parent, it is vital to encourage and support your child in a learning way as they attempt to tackle difficult tasks.
It is only by children learning the mastery of rebounding from failure that they will develop healthy self-confidence. Confidence is one of the greatest characteristics a parent can nurture in their child. As parents, we worry too much about what our child will become later in life, yet we forget that the emotions we deposit today will create the adult of tomorrow. It is, by far, much easier to build a confident child than to repair a broken, anxious adult.
My experience of children and parenting spreads across decades and my mistakes are legendary. Being the middle child of 10 made me responsible for four younger siblings while still in my teenage years.
I have three adult children of my own so have walked the whole child to adult experience three times and made all the typical mistakes that so many parents do.
Having now a 12-year-old boy, I am revisiting many of my old mistakes. Alongside this, I have three grandchildren, one who is older than my youngest son. So, the parenting mistakes, the tantrums, the teenager trials, the social media minefield, boyfriends, girlfriends, anxiety, I have seen it all through four generations. And what I have learnt? That our children are educated by who we are as parents, not by what we say or teach but by the way we behave and react.
I recently delivered a short programme for 30 parents. I was asked to share my experiences as a mindset coach, behaviouralist and parent. The topic of my session was “The training course parents wished they had gone on before they had so much fun in bed”.
The main subjects discussed during the programme were children’s confidence, self-esteem and methods of helping them to overcome obstacles.
The most useful advice I can pass on to parents is that parenting without a sense of humour is like being an accountant who is inept at maths. I say free our children from the prisons which we have created for them, allow them the freedom to be creative. Let them learn through play and experience.
In the programme, we talked about how low confidence, anxiety and poor self-esteem in children frequently lead to under-performance, unpopularity, and greatly reduced happiness and satisfaction in later life. It is well researched that patterns established in childhood can often last a lifetime and can shape our future lives.
Here are three things we discussed.
One. Parents should model the confidence they want their children to have.
Those who have no confidence in themselves, are twice defeated in the race of life, while those with confidence have won before they have even started.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to copy their elders’ behaviour. Children do not always remember clearly what parents taught them, but they certainly remember who and what their parents were.
So do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time. We try to help children by giving them answers to remember rather than problems to solve and the confidence, self-esteem to be themselves.
Self-esteem is like a magic wand that creates a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every part of their existence. I have a saying I like to use “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to better my own dancing”.
Two. We must teach children how not to get upset when making mistakes.
We must encourage them to not fear making mistakes and show them that those very mistakes can be their best teaching tool. We need to remind them that failure is not the opposite of success but a crucial part of success.
If you teach your child to find and analyse the reason behind the mistake it then becomes a learning experience rather than a failed experience.
So, be aware of your reactions to your child’s mistakes and focus on the positive outcomes and encourage your child to see the mistake as an opportunity for betterment. Encourage them to try new things.
Do not rescue your child from their mistakes. Allow them the opportunity to develop their own resilience and resourcefulness, not learning to tolerate failure leaves kids vulnerable to anxiety when the inevitable failure does occur. Perhaps even more importantly, it can make children give up instead of trying again.
That is why Michael Jordan, one of the world’s greatest athletes, has spent years preaching the importance of losing. Jordan has spoken extensively about how perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges, on and off the court, are what have made him a winner.
Three. One of the things I teach children, parents and leaders is the need for curiosity.
In my leadership development workshops, I often talk about the qualities required to be a good leader. While most leaders will have intelligence, not all will be inquisitive. In this new world of technology and innovations being inquisitive is an essential skill. So, encourage curiosity and the thirst to discover.
Parents face enormous social pressures, which leads them to put even more pressure on themselves. But do not allow this, do not succumb to external pressures. Instead appreciate the joys of your children in the present rather than obsessing about the uncertainty of the future.
Let kids be kids, let them learn through play and just enjoy them. Their childhood is short.
I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”
If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on email@example.com
About Dr Maurice Duffy
Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.