As parents, most of us want to provide our children with everything they need. We want our children to grow up healthy, happy, well-adjusted, loving. And on those rare moments when we get to sit back and contemplate our higher goals as parents, we have to admit: We also want to raise extraordinary people. I do, anyway.
How do you raise someone to become a leader, to change the world for the better, to help others? Are competitive schools and expensive classes the answer (please say no)? Well, we talked with Dr. Tovah P. Klein, author of How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2 to 5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success, to get some advice on raising an extraordinary child.
1. Give your child a sound emotional base. "Your job as a parent is to love and accept your child for who they are," Dr. Klein says. Even as you set limits for them, a child needs to feel loved through every emotion they have and through any behavior.
2. Never shame your child. Avoid giving your child the message that they or their ideas are bad, especially with younger children.
3. Don't micromanage or try to control your child. For example, if your child chooses to dress herself in mismatched clothing, just go with it. Otherwise, you're sending her the message that "your own initiatives and decisions are not good," Dr. Klein says.
4. Avoid constantly correcting your child. For example, if they put together a puzzle the "wrong" way, hold back from telling them they've done it wrong. Let them experiment and imagine a world where there is more than one right answer, more than one way to do something. "That's how you get kids to think outside the box," Klein says.
5. Think of learning as a series of experiments, not a series of tests. "Young children don't define mistakes the way we do," Dr. Klein says. "For them it's all just a part of the process." For a child, if something doesn't work, it's an opportunity to learn and try again. Allowing your child to figure this out on their own teaches them flexibility.
6. Give children opportunities for engaged play, not just unstructured play. Kids need time to play in the outdoor world in whatever way they choose to. Let them discover things for themselves. This is how you nurture a creative and innovative thinker.
7. Teach your child emotional resilience. "It's not our job to make our children happy," Dr. Klein says. "It's to help them understand how to work through the hard emotions." Don't negate a child's feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration, or fear, or tell them that they shouldn't have those feelings. Instead, help them recognize those feelings and deal with them. That's how they learn how to handle the adversities of life. "And that's how you'll raise a truly extraordinary human being," Dr. Klein says.
Are any of these tips a surprise to you? Are you doing any of these things already?
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