(NNPA)—At what age should a child be given “the facts of life”—not the birds-and-bees facts, but the bottom line about what it will be like for him or her to make a living and a life?
I don’t think six or seven is too soon to start. In fact, if we don’t teach standards and ethics to children early on and help them establish habits of “response-ability,” it’s terribly hard to rein them in later on. Because as sure as the sun rises, outside influences will intrude soon enough, influences bent on sidetracking our kids and running them off into a ditch. Unless we’ve already inculcated the basics of responsibility and consequences, a child’s future can be dire later on.
Here are some things to remember.
You must set the standard. Married or single, you are the most powerful player in your child’s growth and development. You are the person your child most wants to please and the person he or she most looks up to. If your own standards of conduct are high, your child will want to live up to them. Disappointing a parent hurts a child to the core.
Your love and support are essential to your child’s success. To survive, your child must learn from you how to assess and address the problems he or she will inevitably face along the way.
While you may not be able to give your child abundant finances or stellar connections, you can give them essentials that are equally valuable: self-respect, respect for others, diligence, the value of homework/research, motivation, a commitment to give back, and the training required to persevere.
Use these ideas and tactics to put your child on-course for success:
Plant seeds of success. Make your home a place where ideas abound. Let your child know, without having to guess, his or her value and potential. Say, “You can become anything you want in life if you’re willing to go all out for it.” Then explain what that means: “Paying attention in school; always doing your best; asking for help when you need it; doing your homework; obeying the rules.” Lay it out, make an action list. Help your child grow up believing that there are no limits, that everything is possible.
Encourage and affirm your children. Give lots of high fives and kudos. Eliminate from your vocabulary every form of hopelessness or victimization. Every day, remind your offspring they’re destined for accomplishment and success, for greatness in their chosen profession.
Mirror hard work and abiding love. Wake them with a kiss as you leave for work. Kiss them when you get home. Be a cooking and financial guru and a super parent. Show them how to transform food basics into delicious meals that last all week. Put tender loving care into everything you do no matter how limited your resources.
Encourage independence and self-reliance. Teach your children to always have a back-up plan. Teach them that they’ll face unpleasant realities that will never change, so there’s zero point in complaining about them.
Encourage them to work diligently and save money. Teach your children to earn money to support their hobbies and the purchase of their personal items and to always set 10 percent aside in savings. Let them launch a business, work for neighbors, baby sit, or mow lawns. Encourage their creativity, then suggest that they sell what they make so they can enjoy the thrill of making money for doing what they love to do.
Let your children experiment. They’ll rarely hit a home run the first time out; after all, they’re just learning to swing the bat. Your child may make all of five dollars on his or her first “business” but guess what? It will likely be the most important five dollars in their short history—and the elation of winning will stick with them and encourage their next “capital” idea.
Invest in good people. There are good people everywhere who will help you guide and inform your child. Look around, ask for help. Invest in your child’s future. Find good, prudent, knowledgeable people and place your children within their spheres of influence. People like to be mentors, so divest yourself of the notion that you’re being a pill by asking for help. You’re being a pro-active parent, a positive provider dedicated to doing what’s best for your kids.
Do the above, then applaud yourself. Others will, too.
(Farrah Gray is the author of “The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity,” “Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success” and the international best-seller “Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out.” He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.) www.drfarrahgray.com.)