~Karen Kaiser Clark
Life can be a persistent teacher.
When we fail to learn life’s lessons the first time around, life has a way of repeating them to foster understanding.
Over the last few years, my life was shaken up by dramatic circumstances. I resisted the impermanence of these events in my life and struggled with embracing change. When I resisted the lessons that change brought, a roller coaster of changes continued to materialize.
When I was seventeen years old, my immigrant parents’ small import-export business failed. From a comfortable life in Northern California, they uprooted themselves and my two younger brothers and moved back to Asia.
The move was sudden and unexpected, catching us all by surprise. I was in my last months of high school, so I remained in California with a family friend to finish my degree.
I spent the summer abroad with my family, and then relocated to Southern California to start college upon my return. Alone in a new environment, I found myself without many friends or family members close by.
Life was moving much faster than I was able to handle, and I was shell-shocked by my family’s sudden move, my new surroundings, and college. Their relocation and college brought dramatic changes, along with fear, loneliness, and anxiety.
I felt overwhelmed by my new university campus and its vastness; alone, even though I sat in classes of 300 students; and challenged by the responsibilities of independence and adulthood.
Everything I had known had changed in a very short period of time. I tried to cope the best I could, but I resisted the changes by isolating myself even more from my new university and surroundings. It was the first and only time in my life I had contemplated suicide.
Several years after college, having achieved my career goals in the legal field, I started a legal services business. I helped immigrants, refugees, and people escaping persecution who’d come to the U.S. to navigate the hurdles to residency and citizenship.
I invested money, time, and my being into my law office. Not only was I preoccupied with the dire legal situations of my clients, but I also confronted the ups and downs of running a business.
Starting and running a new company is not easy, and mine was losing more money every month. While I found the nearly three-year venture immensely gratifying because of the lives I was able to help, it was time for me to move on.
It was a difficult decision, because I thought I’d found my career path. My life became engulfed with changes once again as I tried to close the doors to my office, close my clients’ cases, pay off my debt, and seek employment.
In between university and my business venture, I married a beautiful, gifted girl in India after an international romance. We were married for ten years and endured many of life’s personal and professional ups and downs together. Despite our problems, we both struggled to keep our marriage together.
When the tears dried, the counseling sessions did more harm than good, and our communication ended, we separated and then divorced last year. The ending of our marriage felt like the shattering of an exquisite glass vase into a million pieces.
I met the closure of our marriage first with strong resistance and then with profound sadness and loss. How could something that I valued so much and believed to be forever, cease to exist?
As much as I fought back and resisted each of these events in my life, I’ve since learned to embrace the impermanency of my life and the changes that come my way.
1. Reduce expectations.
In each of my life’s circumstances, I had high expectations for my family, my business, and my marriage. I had expected each to remain constant and to last forever. But I’ve learned that nothing lasts forever. Nothing.
You can have reasonable expectations of how you’d like something to turn out, but you can’t marry yourself to that result. Reducing or having no expectations about a relationship, a business, or a situation can help you accept whatever may come from it.
When you set reasonable expectations, and don’t expect or demand a particular outcome, you’re better able to manage any changes that do come your way. Unreasonable expectations of life, however, will likely be met with loss, disappointment, and pain.
2. Acknowledge change.
For the longest time, I refused to believe that change was in the realm of possibility in a situation. I’ve since learned that change can happen quickly and at any point.
Be aware that change can happen in your life. This means understanding that things can and will be different from how they are now. Acknowledging change is allowing it to happen when it unfolds instead of approaching change from a place of denial and resistance.
3. Accept change.
I desperately tried to prevent and stop change from happening in my business and marriage by trying to forge ahead even in futile situations.
Instead of resisting, allow change to unfold and try to understand what’s transforming and why.
Circumstances will not turn out the way you want them to, and it’s perfectly all right. Embracing the situation can help you deal with the change effectively, make the necessary shifts in your life to embrace the change, and help you move forward after the event.
4. Learn from the experience.
If you accept and embrace change, you will start looking for and finding lessons in it.
When dramatic changes were happening in my life, I refused to acknowledge them at first, so change left me distraught and without meaning. Once I reflected back and finally accepted the changes, the lessons I started absorbing were profound.
Change becomes your greatest teacher, but only if you give yourself permission to learn from it.
5. Recognize you’re growing stronger.
When you accept, embrace, and learn from change, you inevitably grow stronger. The ability to continuously accept change allows you to become as solid as a rock in the midst of violent storms all around you—even if you feel afraid.
6. Embrace the wisdom.
The more I permitted change and impermanence in my life, the more I grew as a person. Embracing change has brought newfound strength into my life and surprisingly, more inner peace.
When you proactively embrace change and learn to accept it as a part of life, you are filled with more calmness, peace, and courage. When life fails to shake you up with its twists and turns, you realize that changes can’t break you.
You’ve reached a level of understanding in life that some might even call wisdom.
While by no means have I reached that place called wisdom, I’m working through my aversions to change. I now openly welcome and embrace it.
When we can accept change, learn from it, and become all the better for experiencing it, change is no longer our enemy. It becomes our teacher.
Have you ever been lonely in a crowd? Have you ever been perfectly content all alone? Me too. And I have also suffered from loneliness.
Loneliness is a complex mental and emotional phenomenon that has at its base a powerful emotion that has survival value for children. All of us have experienced some degree of abandonment, if only for a short time, and remember the painful and scary feeling that goes along with it.
Whenever we are reminded of this feeling or anticipate it in the future, we get a twinge of abandonment distress that we experience as loneliness. This can happen among a crowd of friends or even after making love. It can be pretty confusing and can put you off your game if you don’t know what’s going on.
Here are some tips for recognizing loneliness for what it is and dealing with it in the healthiest ways.
1. Realize that loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. When you are feeling lonely, it is because something has triggered a memory of that feeling, not because you are in fact, isolated and alone. The brain is designed to pay attention to pain and danger, and that includes painful scary feelings; therefore loneliness gets our attention.
But then the brain tries to make sense of the feeling. Why am I feeling this way? Is it because nobody loves me? Because I am a loser? Because they are all mean? Theories about why you are feeling lonely can become confused with facts. Then it becomes a bigger problem so just realize that you are having this feeling and accept it without over reacting.
2. Reach out because loneliness is painful and can confuse you into thinking that you are a loser, an outcast. You might react by withdrawing into yourself, your thoughts, and your lonely feelings and this is not helpful. At its best, anticipation of loneliness might motivate us to reach out and cultivate friendships, which is the healthiest thing to do if you are sad and alone. When you are a child, and your sadness causes you to cry, you may evoke a comforting response from others. If you’re an adult, not so much.
3. Notice your self deflating thoughts. We often create self centered stories to explain our feelings when we are young, it is not unusual for children to assume that there is something wrong with them if they are not happy. If they are lonely and sad, children may assume other people don’t like them when this is rarely the case.
Victims of bullying may well have fans and friends, but they often aren’t aware of it because the shame and loneliness get more attention. Habitual assumptions about social status continue into adulthood and if you are looking for evidence that the world sucks, you can always find it.
4. Make a plan to fight the mental and emotional habits of loneliness. If you realize you are dealing with an emotional habit, you can make a plan to deal with loneliness. Since healthy interaction with friends is good, make some effort to reach out to others, to initiate conversation and face time even when your loneliness and depression are telling you not to. Yes, it is work, but it is worthwhile, just like exercising is worthwhile even when you are feeling tired or lazy.
5. Focus on the needs and feelings of others, the less attention on your lonely thoughts and feelings. I can walk down the street thinking about myself, my loneliness and the hopelessness of it all, staring at the sidewalk and sighing to myself. Or I can walk down the street grateful for the diversity of people I get to share the sidewalk with, silently wishing them good health and good fortune, and smiling at each person I meet. The latter is more fun, even though I sometimes have to remind myself to do it on purpose.
6. Find others like you. Now days there are more tools than ever before to find out where the knitters, hikers or kiteboarders are congregating so that you can get together with those who share your interests. This makes it much easier to identify groups with which you will have something in common, a natural basis for beginning a friendship.
7. Always show up when meeting up with others. You don’t have to run for president of the knitters society at your first meeting. But you do have to show up. I have been telling others to practice yoga for 20 years and promising I would do it myself for just as long, but except for the occasional coincidental yoga offering at a retreat, I didn’t take the trouble of finding a class I could attend regularly until a month ago. Now I am enjoying it and it wasn’t that hard. I have put a reminder in my phone to resign from the procrastinator’s society.
8. Be curious, but don’t expect perfection or applause. Each time you show up is an experiment, a micro adventure in social bonding. If you are curious about and interested in others, they will be attracted to you because you are giving them attention. So you will get attention in return. Curiosity about others also takes your focus away from those painful feelings that tend to make you hide and sulk.
9. Kindness goes a long way. “There’s nobody here but us chickens.” This is one of my favorite lines from The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas. Underneath the impressive facades of the high fliers are the same set of emotions we all are born with. Celebrities suffer from stage fright and depression too.
You have the power to offer loving kindness and generosity of spirit to all you come into contact with. It isn’t instinctual to be kind to strangers or people who scare you. But it is a choice. It is a choice that Jesus and Ghandi used intentionally. And in the long run it is a winning choice. The alternative, being mean or stingy with those you don’t know well, can get you a reputation as a Scrooge.
10. Be persistent even if a particular group does seem to be a dead end for you, try another. AA and AlAnon recommend that everyone try six different groups to find one that suits you best. If you are persistent, challenging the assumptions and feelings that tell you to give up and resign yourself to a life of loneliness, and showing up and being curious and kind to others and more and more groups, the odds are in your favor.
And once you have a friend or two, nourish those friendships with time and attention. Don’t be too cautious about whether you are giving more than you are getting at first. If you make more friends and some of them are takers, you can choose to spend more time with the friends who reward your friendship.
Mindfulness and its proven impact on loneliness: What you should know
(BPT) – Maybe you know someone who stands by taking five minutes each morning to meditate or finds time after lunch to quiet his or her mind and focus on breathing. Whatever the method may be, incorporating “mindfulness” practices into your life can have a wide range of positive health benefits like improving your memory, sleep and immune system; reducing stress and feelings of loneliness and increasing compassion toward others and yourself.
Mindfulness means taking time to pay attention to yourself and your thoughts and feelings. Read on to learn how you can put mindfulness into practice in your life to help improve your overall health.
How to make mindfulness a routine part of your day.
- Find five to ten minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. (Helpful hint: Put your phone on silent or in another room so you can concentrate!) Take the time to notice where your mind goes and how your body is feeling. You just might find that this helps you focus and prioritize your day.
- Before you go to bed take time to focus on the good things that happened that day. Write your thoughts down in a journal. Writing them down can help you deliberately recognize the positive, even on a tough day.
- Search for “mindfulness apps” on your smartphone or tablet that lead you in a mindfulness exercise. For many people, using an app is an easy way to remain consistent with the practice. And many of these apps are free!
Feeling lonely? Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness has been shown to help older adults overcome a silent but urgent health issue: loneliness. It is estimated that more than half of adults age 65 and over regularly experience moderate to severe loneliness. Loneliness is characterized by a marked difference between someone’s desired companionship and actual relationships. Through unique studies conducted by UnitedHealthcare and AARP, researchers are applying the techniques of mindfulness to help combat loneliness in older adults.
Loneliness poses a serious threat to the quality of life for older adults. It is linked to negative health outcomes such as higher risk of dementia, mortality and disability.
“The health risk of chronic loneliness, in older adults, is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and has a greater impact on mortality than obesity,” said Dr. Charlotte Yeh, M.D., chief medical officer, AARP Services Inc. “That is why UnitedHealthcare and AARP Services Inc. are collaborating to identify actionable solutions, geared for any individual across the spectrum of loneliness.”
Researchers looked at whether mindfulness interventions, like breath awareness, self-compassion and kindness exercises, could positively impact a person’s optimism and quality of life — all factors that help reduce loneliness.
Conclusions were encouraging: Mindfulness activities were shown to decrease loneliness among older adults. The research demonstrated that mindfulness reduced stress, and improved memory, sleep, the immune system, resiliency and compassion for self and others.
Although loneliness is complex and challenging to address, a mindfulness practice may help you live your best life.
How do you define resiliency?
Many define resiliency as the ability to bounce back from a setback. Some refer to it as one’s ability to push through difficult times.
Following a keynote speech recently, this definition of resiliency was shared: Putting the pieces of a dropped vase back together as close to the original form as possible, knowing that sometimes it’s impossible to put things back exactly, which results in the creation of a new normal.
Awareness – While the above definitions provide some insight on resiliency, they don’t explain how a person develops it. A person who doesn’t bounce back quickly may be judged by some as being weak. As well, these kinds of definitions can imply that resiliency is something a person has or doesn’t have, which isn’t true. Resiliency is a trainable skill and, like all skills, requires practise for mastery and to maintain top performance.
I prefer to think of the term resiliency as a verb, which requires building up resiliency reserves so they can be drawn upon in difficult times. However, we all have a limit to our resiliency reserve levels, and asking for support to get through a difficult time is not a sign of weakness.
Accountability – Building resiliency reserve levels requires accepting that what we do daily influences them. We don’t get physically fit by thinking about it; it requires actions such as exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Action – One proactive approach for building resiliency is to adopt a daily resiliency hierarchy: actions that can have a positive impact on resiliency.
The following resiliency hierarchy is an example of seven things that, when done daily, can build resiliency. Although each action is helpful, it’s suggested that you start with one and work your way up to practising all seven each day.
Acknowledge others – None of us can get through life alone. Recognizing, acknowledging and thanking the people we interact with daily can help to build and maintain our relationships, as well as expand our social connections.
Gratitude – Take a moment each day to be grateful for three good things you have in your life. Life is challenging, and not everything may be the way we want it to be. Being grateful for all the things we have can remind us how fortunate we are.
Movement – We can improve our mental health and resiliency levels by increasing our movement, because of the mind-body connection. Movement includes walking, running, exercise, recreational activities and sports. Set daily goals and count your movement minutes or steps.
Self-acceptance – Self-acceptance is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. None of us will or can be perfect. Learn to be okay with who you are and your weaknesses. Stop any negative or self-critical talk that only creates hurt and serves no real purpose.
Nutrition – What we put in our mouth feeds our brain, where our thoughts and feelings come from. Our lifestyle and nutritional choices matter for both our mental and physical health. They also affect our resiliency reserve levels. Making good choices one meal at a time doesn’t have to be hard. Cut out processed foods, and focus on eating meals high in fibre, healthy fats and good sources of protein.
Hope – Without a plan, there can be no hope. Having one or two clearly defined goals for what you want in life can give a positive focus and purpose for each day. Purpose can be a source of energy that pushes us toward the things we want in life.
Sleep – Perhaps one of the most important things we can do to build resiliency is to ensure we get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a day. Without proper sleep we put our physical safety and mental health at risk.
How to become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty.
When uncertainty rocks our world, making us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, or whether to respond at all, it can be crippling for some of us if we have not developed emotional resilience.
Not sure if you struggle with resilience? Take this well-being survey. If you do struggle with resilience, how do you move through the challenge? How do you respond effectively to the situation? And how can you become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty? Here are nine ways to develop the emotional resilience that’ll help you in tough times:
1. Try to be flexible.
Often we have difficulty learning to “go with the flow.” Obstinacy, ego, fixed beliefs, expectations, and habits are some of things that lead us to resist change. But when the house you thought you’d live in forever is destroyed in a fire or hurricane, or the job you had trained for has been automated, or perhaps the “love of your life” has married someone else, what do you do?
It can be heartbreaking and crushing all at once. But it is also true that your life is demanding a “course change.” In these situations, it’s wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that the situation has changed. You do not control the world; you only control yourself. The only way forward now is to adjust your attitude, shift your thoughts, and create new dreams by being flexible.
2. Practice being OK with discomfort.
When we are navigating a situation in flux, most of us will feel somewhat unsure of ourselves. This is normal. Accepting yourself and your situation is a good place to begin. Calm the inner voices of fear, blame, or resentment, and resist the urge to create drama around the uncertainty. Appraise the situation from a balanced place, realizing that it is OK to feel genuinely uncomfortable at times. You’ll build emotional resilience if you use this time to practice accepting yourself despite the discomfort you feel.
3. Learn from your mistakes and successes.
Do not panic! By allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances to reveal something about yourself, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Trial and error is how we learn. Once you adapt to being somewhat uncomfortable, you can apply yourself to the challenge at hand, which often triggers a flood of new ideas. Explore the positive thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Perhaps you will learn to speak up for yourself, or you may be forced to apply new approaches to the situation in flux.
This can open up whole new avenues of experience for you that may enhance your coping skills, build resilience, and even expand the range of your resume with newly discovered abilities. Test out some new approaches to see what works in this situation. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they will make you more emotionally resilient if you are willing to learn from them. By recognizing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can more easily move through it to attain your desired goals. Ultimately, resilience is just getting back up when you fall down.
4. Step back to gain a broader perspective.
Widen your field of vision by reviewing the past and imagining the future. From this perspective, envision various plans, and estimate how they might unfold into the future, until you discover a path that shows promise. Then give it a shot. If that one doesn’t meet your goals, don’t hesitate to try another approach. A shift in perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view and try out new solutions that make you more emotionally resilient in the future.
5. Coordinate with others.
Review your options and then enlist helpers. Before moving forward with a plan of action, share your uncertainty, and brainstorm ideas for how to move forward with colleagues and friends. Remain open to suggestions, but defend ideas that you really believe in with fervor. Then move forward, knowing you’ve considered multiple options.
6. When at a loss, imitate someone you respect.
Sometimes the hurdles seem too high, or we are at a loss about how to proceed. In these moments, we don’t feel very emotionally resilient. One trick is to think of someone you respect and imagine what they might do in this situation. For example, you might think about how your friend Jane, the most gracious and balanced person you know, maintains her poise in the face of crisis. If her method is to listen attentively, speak slowly, and establish good eye contact while responding, try that. A shift in the way you act can give you ideas for how to be more emotionally resilient.
7. Practice self-compassion.
In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself to maintain your self-confidence. It’s OK to take some time to release your disappointment or take a break from your routine. A walk or run in nature may be helpful for processing your thoughts and releasing pent-up emotions. Or eating healthfully can help remind you of the importance of being kind to yourself. Once calm, research several options, and open your mind to all possibilities, so that a new avenue of experience can blossom for you.
8. Celebrate your successes.
After all the work you have done to wend your way through uncertain times and situations, once you have initiated a plan that is working or picked yourself back up after a tough experience, celebrate your success with those who helped you achieve positive results. Give yourself credit for a “win” that feels affirming, and let joy sweep into your heart. Congratulate yourself and commit to continuing your success. Practice being grateful for who you have been, as well as who you are becoming. Emotional resilience is about more than recovering from challenges — it’s about thriving in the face of those challenges.
9. Learn to love change.
Heraclitus once said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Besides, doing the same thing over and over can wear us down with its accumulative boredom. Change breeds something different and potentially exciting. New efforts stimulate growth potential through new experiences. It is “our ability to respond to life” that is being put to the test here, and the more we exercise this muscle, the more we will feel invigorated by the variety of life, and therefore the more emotionally resilient we will become.
There’s a link between your emotional health and your physical well-being, so take time to nurture both.
To be completely healthy, you should take care not only of your physical health, but your emotional health, too. If one is neglected, the other will suffer.
What’s the Connection Between Emotional and Physical Health?
There’s a physical connection between what the mind is thinking and those parts of the brain that control bodily functions. According to Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine in New York City, the brain is intimately connected to our endocrine system, which secretes hormones that can have a powerful influence on your emotional health. “Thoughts and feelings as they are generated within the mind [can influence] the outpouring of hormones from the endocrine system, which in effect control much of what goes on within the body,” says Dr. Goodstein.
“As a matter of fact, it’s very probable that many patients who go to their physician’s office with physical complaints have underlying depression,” he says. People who visit their doctors reporting symptoms of headache, lethargy, weakness, or vague abdominal symptoms often end up being diagnosed with depression, even though they do not report feelings of depression to their doctors, says Goodstein.
While unhappy or stressed-out thoughts may not directly cause poor physical health, they may be a contributing factor and may explain why one person is suffering physically while someone else is not, Goodstein adds.
How Exactly Does the Mind Affect the Body?
There are many ways in which the mind has a significant impact on the body. Here are a few:
- Chronic illness and depression Depression has been shown to increase the risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, according to an article published in 2013 in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. A review of studies on diabetes and depression, published in August 2015 in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes, found that depression put people at a 41 percent higher risk for the condition. Researchers aren’t yet clear on how mental health influences physical health, but according to a study published in September 2017 in the journal Psychiatria Danubina, it may be that depression affects the immune system, and that habits associated with depression, such as poor diet or lack of physical activity, may create conditions for illness to occur.
- Depression and longevity According to a review published in June 2014 in World Psychiatry, many major mental illnesses are associated with higher rates of death. Another study, published in October 2017 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that those with depression may have life spans from about 7 to 18 years shorter than the general population.
- Physical symptoms of emotional health distress People who are clinically depressed often have physical symptoms, such as constipation, lack of appetite, insomnia, or lethargy, among others.
- White-coat syndrome This is a condition in which a person’s blood pressure increases the minute they step into a doctor’s office. In white-coat syndrome, anxiety is directly related to physical function — blood pressure. “If you extrapolate from that, you can say, what other kinds of anxieties are these people having that are producing jumps in blood pressure? What is the consequence of repeated stress?” asks Goodstein.
And on the other hand: “Those individuals who have achieved a level of mental health where they can manage better the inevitable conflicts of human life are more likely to prevail in certain kinds of physical illness,” says Goodstein.
How Should You Care for Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being?
It’s hard to do, but slowing down and simplifying routines can go a long way to strengthening your mental and physical health.
- Eat right. A healthy, regular diet is good for the body and mind.
- Go to bed on time. Losing sleep is hard on your heart, may increase weight, and definitely cranks up the crankiness meter.
- If you fall down, get back up. Resilience in the face of adversity is a gift that will keep on giving both mentally and physically.
- Go out and play. Strike a balance between work and play. Yes, work is a good thing: It pays the bills. However, taking time out for relaxation and socializing is good for your emotional health and your physical health.
- Exercise. A study published in October 2017 in Reviews in the Neurosciences shows that exercise improves your mood and has comprehensive benefits for your physical health.
- See the right doctor, regularly. Going to the right doctor can make all the difference in your overall health, especially if you have a complicated condition that requires a specialist. But if your emotions are suffering, be open to seeing a mental health professional, too.
Total health depends on a healthy mind and body. Take time to nurture both.
“To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are will speak more loudly to your kids than anything you say.” ~ Eric Grietens, former Navy SEAL and Governor of Missouri
Parenting is hard work.
Children, by their very nature, lack the emotional and cognitive resources to navigate life without help. They’ll whine, cry, shout, beg, and complain for no reason. We may feel anger, annoyance, frustration and even guilt for how our child behaves.
But kids will be kids, as they say.
Despite the inevitable challenges of parenting, it is our responsibility to teach and set the example. Not all parents embrace this responsibility – and the effects can be devastating.
Parenting is an obligation that we must take on with the utmost sincerity. Indeed, how we decide to raise our children will profoundly influence the type of person he or she becomes.
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they question their parenting abilities. This is natural, and it is nothing for which to be ashamed.
Perhaps the most humble and righteous thing that a good parent can do is admit they don’t know everything. Being a parent is not something that happens – it is a process. Birth ‘happens’; parenting evolves.
This article focuses on eight science-backed methods of raising happy and prosperous children. As you read through, you’ll notice a diverse set of opinions and topics.
The common thread behind all of this advice is a scientific consensus, from psychologists, professors, social workers, and, most importantly, parents. The science of child development, while not perfect, provides a useful framework from which to operate.
HERE ARE 8 THINGS PARENTS TEACH KIDS FOR SUCCESS:
1. DEVELOP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Decades of research show that emotional intelligence is as critical to success– if not more so – than cognitive intelligence. Per a study conducted by TalentSmart, emotional intelligence (‘E.I.’) is the most reliable predictor of performance, blowing past I.Q. and personality.
E.I is the foundation of the following skills:
– anger management
– change tolerance
– customer service
– social skills
– stress tolerance
The most important thing a parent can do to cultivate a child’s emotional intelligence is to model good behavior and E.I.-related traits.
2. FORGET ‘HELICOPTER PARENTING.’
Helicopter parenting, or overparenting, is one of the most significant problems parents have according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshman at Stanford University.
Parents who hover around their kids (hence the word ‘helicopter’) aren’t doing them any favors. The same can be said of overprotection.
Giving your child more freedom can be difficult for parents. We love our kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. But, we must be willing to let our kids try new things, fail, and experience consequences; it is essential to the maturity process.
3. LEARN HOW TO GIVE PRAISE EFFECTIVELY
Continually praising a child for their innate gifts, like intelligence, makes it less likely that they will apply said gifts to bettering themselves. (They know they’re smart!)
Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, examined the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. She discovered that praising children for developing novel approaches to solving problems, even when unsuccessful, teaches them the importance of seeing things through, giving effort, and realizing their intentions.
4. GIVE THEM OUTSIDE PLAY TIME
The booming tech age is both exciting and novel. But the increasing reliance (addiction?) resulting from overuse of technology is troubling. There is perhaps nothing more disturbing than the child who comes home from school and spends the rest of their evening on an iPad, cell phone, or computer.
Research shows that overusing technology hampers a child’s social skill development, encourages a sedentary lifestyle, and inhibits a child’s academic growth.
When they want to go to a friend’s house, let them. If there’s space in front of your home, your kid should be spending at least an hour or two outside per day.
5. GIVE THEM CHORES
Lythcott-Haims found that one common trait among successful adults is that they reported having additional responsibilities (chores) as kids.
She says “By making them do chores – taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry – they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life. It’s not just about me and what I need in this moment.”
6. BE A BIT PUSHY ABOUT SCHOOL
According to researchers in from the University of Essex in the U.K., parents who have high expectations for their children – and consistently remind them of these expectations – are more likely to raise academically-successful kids.
Researchers note in the study “The measure of expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of attending higher education reported by the main parent, who, in the majority of cases, is the mother.”
(Thanks, Mom!) raising kids
7. TEACH THEM RESILIENCE
Resilience, or the ability to rebound from setbacks, is a common trait shared among successful people. A high level of resilience enables one person to survive and thrive in circumstances that may defeat someone else.
How do you teach resilience to kids? Set a good example, demonstrate commitment and follow through, practice gratitude, and act as a mentor.
8. TEACH THEM ABOUT SERVING OTHERS
We live in a highly individualistic and cynical world. In fact, studies show that most people, given a choice, will commit an act out of selfishness rather than the common good.
We need more people who serve others and who act as servant-leaders.
Emma Seppala, Ph.D., science director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, says “The best-kept secret to happiness is to be of service to others,” and that “Multiple studies have shown that happiness makes people 12 percent more productive.”