With the seemingly endless lists of resources, informational posts and courses available, it can be hard to really pin down the best ways to support your child and their success. As a parent, you have an opportunity to actively guide your kids while teaching them how to be free-thinking and independent. It's easy to brush off education as something teachers and schools worry about, but many parents aren't aware of how to be more active in helping their children succeed. In this article, we will discuss one of the ways you can support your child's success this year.
How Do I Become An Active Parent In My Child's Education?
While as a parent, you may feel there are certain forms of discipline that are necessary for your child, finding methods that are both constructive and receptive for them is extremely important.
Some of the ways you can do this is by...
Setting SMART Goals
Arrange Quality Time
Set The Right Example
Show Them A Little Love
Trust Yourself As A Parent
What are SMART goals and how can I set them?
SMART goal setting is a technique used by coaches, entrepreneurs, and leaders to create structure and track-ability for your overall goals. Think about it as the bow is to an archer ~ it provides a focal point for your target and forces you to focus on exactly where you want the arrow to go.
But, how is this different from just setting any type of goal?
The better question is: what exactly do you want to achieve?
To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
A specific goal grounds it in reality. The more detailed your goal, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Specific goals clarify the difference between ‘I want to be a better parent’ and ‘I want to be a better parent by enforcing fun engaging family reading hours once a week, every week, for the next 6 months.
A measurable goal breaks down your objective into measurable elements and makes it concrete. Consider the difference between the goal of ‘being happier’ and the goal of ‘including a fruit in one meal a day to encourage the kids to adopt a healthier lifestyle’ - which one sounds more like something you’d do?
An attainable goal requires honest reflection on if the goal being made is actually possible by weighing the effort, time, or cost against the other obligations and priorities in your life. By staying honest with yourself, you will avoid wasting time, money or effort in failing to meet that goal. One example is the common goal of 'I will get a better handle on my finances'. If you have a busy work life, a big family, or even struggle with math, trying to meet this goal all on your own could be overwhelming or discouraging. Planning smartly for your goals will help you to determine if you can afford outside help or how much time it may take yourself.
A relevant goal frames it with you and your personal values at the center. Do you actually want to be an influencer, be famous, have 5 kids, and have a full time job? Is that what you want or what you feel that you need? You need to reflect on who you are and what is important to you when making a relevant goal. If fame and family are your priorities, frame your goals from that mindset. If you lack certain skills, plan to practice them. If you lack the resources, spend time seeking them out. The main point is to ask yourself why do you want this goal? What are some of the possible consequences or benefits? Are they worth it to you?
A timely goal sets it in the present. Always have a current plan for everything you do. Deadlines are what usually move people to action. Craft deadlines, share them with your family, and go after them. By keeping the timeline realistic and flexible, you will keep morale high and things are far more likely to get done. Think about how 'clean your room' differs from 'make your bed, pick up your clothes and wipe down the surfaces by 5 pm!'
The key to setting, making and following through on your SMART goals will be creating them in a positive mindset. The law of attraction tells us that what you focus on, increases. So, forming positive goals gives you the discipline and the encouragement to complete one and then make another.
Arrange Quality Time
There is no shoe, designer purse, car, watch, or material item that will ever equate in value with quality time with your child. Quality time is timeless and personal. The moments you share with your kids impact you and them for the rest of your lives. It doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive; it may look differently in different families, but the approach and openness should be the same.
A 2007 study by Dr. Qian Wang, Dr. Eva Pomerantz and Dr. Huichang Chen compared child development within families located in China and the United States to find out how parent's control and sovereignty over their children influenced the child's functioning. Testing over 800 students over a 6-month period, the team found that parents trying to psychologically control their kids weakened their emotional functioning. Meanwhile, parents that provided support of their independence led to better emotional functioning and academic improvement. Essentially, this study shows the importance of finding a balance between guidance, independence and control as a parent. Quality time can help you understand their interests, hobbies, and fears allowing you to give advice that your kids can be more willing to receive.
Pro Tip: Set up an automatic reply on your phone or email saying you will be away for an hour or two and please leave a message. With a free hour or even 30 minutes of your time, you can: exercise together, cook a meal as a family at least once a week, create a camp out, genuinely ask about their day, watch a movie, do chores together, have a dance party or throw an awesome game night! The point is to find ways to spend time of QUALITY, not necessarily a large QUANTITY of time with your kids.
Set The Right Example
Once the Age of Technology began to speed up in the late 1990's putting a highly-advanced piece of machinery in the hands of 48 percent of the population on the planet, our society began to shift towards individualism which emphasizes the worth on the individual over all. Basically, individualism says that we are all loosely-linked individuals that are independent of the collective 'community'. This set of ideals forms the basis for much of Euro-American culture, whereas Eastern cultures tend to focus on collectivism, the concept of the state, nation, or social group govern the individual. Communities in Japan beginning to adopt Western ideas caused the average family size to decrease, higher divorce rates, emphasis on child independence during their earlier socializing.
"In Japan, orienting the students towards individualism negatively affected the well-being of participants, whereas a collectivism did not.
In the U.S., orienting the students towards collectivism negatively affected their well-being, and an individualistic orientation did not affect the well-being at all."
While people living in more individualistic cultures were more confident, the negative side effects included elevated anxiety and higher costs on interpersonal relationships. In Euro-American culture, this 'sense of values and behavioral strategies' come from hundreds of years of reinforcing these ideas to ourselves. Yet, Japan only recently started to integrate individualism and saw it create negative influences commonly shared among Western people today. Quality time with your kids practices your interpersonal skills which leads to being a better communicator, learning to rely on your support networks, and negating some of the negative effects of either individualism or collectivism.
While individualism is what makes people envy the rich or the influential, science tells us that it doesn't necessarily make us happier.
A study conducted by researchers at the Department of Cognitive Psychology in Education at Kyoto University on the negative effects of individualism on our relationships and happiness found that people focused on complete self-reliance correlated to less meaningful friendship in their lives. They compared individualist values, number of close friends and subjective well-being of students in Japan versus American students.
Okay, but how can you be this glowing example for your kids?
Be vulnerable with yourself - and be vulnerable with them. Don't be afraid to children about your failures or shortcomings. Explain how you overcame those challenges and became more resilient. By creating an open line of communication, you will make an environment where you can embrace challenges together as a family.
Be committed to your own personal development. Nobody's perfect. We all have areas in our lives in which we could improve. Part of being vulnerable may involve confronting some less positive things about yourself - THAT'S OKAY. Living with shame, regret or jealousy is a heavy burden to carry; forgive yourself and forgive others. The first step to change is recognizing problems in the first place. Personal development is just that - personal and developing. There is no timeline for become a better you; it's simple a daily choice committing to be a little bit better every day.
Take care of your health. If you neglect to take care of yourself often, think about how that makes you feel? How will your kids learn to value themselves if they watch you devalue yourself? By regularly exercising, eating balanced meals frequently, and get a minimum 8-hours of sleep every night, you will have more energy to be an active parent and teach your kids to value their health as well.
Value your relationships with your loved ones as much or ideally more than material wealth. People tend to love things and use people. Show your kids that putting effort into relationships with friends and family matters more than things.
Manage your emotions. You will face frustrating, overwhelming, and worrying situations - its just apart of life. You may want to let it out, to scream, throw your fists or react to a situation, but your children learn from how you choose to control your emotions. Finding the right techniques for you to remain calm teaches them that we are in control of our emotions and how we take it out on other.
Don't fall deep into the comparison trap. There is famous quote by Ann Landers that goes 'At age 20, we worry about what everyone thinks of us. At age 40, we don’t care what anyone thinks of us. At age 60, we realize that nobody has been thinking of us at all.' The older people get, the more they learn that comparison traps are never worth it. Instead, share with them the meaning you find in your work. This will teach them that it is important to value things that bring meaning to their lives. Focus on living a life filled with purpose and value instead of fixating on the opinions of others.
Remember that how you speak about yourself, and your kids, matters. Words are extremely powerful; their power is why we cry at iconic movie scenes or give a theater performance standing ovation. Focusing your energy on your 'fat thighs' or 'flabby arms' corrupts the way you identify yourself and potentially how your kids grow to identify themselves. Instead, shift your mindset to focus on health and wellness rather than appearance and we promise - you will live a much more fulfilling life.
Be open to others opinions. This is different from caring about other's opinion of you. Seeking out the other's opinions broadens your perspective. Never believe you can't ask for help when you need it.
Be dependable. Imagine watching a romantic comedy or children's movie.. One person has a plane to catch, within minutes they could slip away and fate misses its opportunity. We all wait for the other character to run into the airport and profess their love. But, imagine if they never showed up? The plane just leaves.
Be humble enough to apologize when you make a mistake. Parents often use the idea that older means wiser. While this is sometimes true, wisdom still does not mean perfection. You may have studied many years, fought in gruesome battles, worked very hard, or have a great life - you can still be wrong. Ignoring your shortcomings breaks down their trust in you and calls your validity into question. Be a better parent by owning up when you mess up.
Be excited and passionate about life! This means more than just food, by the way. When you forget about the things that make you excited or how to prioritize your passions, life gets dull very fast. Always keep something for yourself to bring light into your life. Your kids will feel its warmth through your happiness.
Show Them A Little Love
Love languages are important in the context of families too.
Maybe the words 'I love you' are difficult to get out for you?
Keep your kids active with you in the kitchen, leave a bouquet of flowers on their desk with an encouraging note, put away electronics and watch a movie together, surprise them with their favorite dessert for no reason, genuinely listen to them when they speak to you, end the day with a 30-min reading time after tucking them into bed. Reading not your strong point? Let them read to you! The goal here is to actively give and receive different forms of love with your kids in a way that does not smother, spoil, or overlook their needs.
Trust Yourself As A Parent .. Most Of The Time
Trusting your ability to be a good parent is key to being one. If you don't think you can do it, think of how much harder it will be to try. Keep a note of appreciation from one of your kids, list your favorite parenting moments or mistakes in a journal, finding time to be alone, pushing yourself to the best you can be, understanding growth takes time and visualize the ways you can be a connected, yet balanced family. This will be the difference between fostering a healthy or toxic family environment for everyone in your home.
“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” – Jess Lair
Thank you for reading. Don't forget to share this blog post with a fellow parent you know and cherish.
Reimagine Your Capabilities,
The IA Team