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Stop Trying To ‘Improve’ Your Children

How many of us complain as parents that we have a child that simply can’t measure up when it comes to playing sports, their grades, or their social skills? It’s an unfortunate truth that many of us often push our children to be better them without thinking of how it might impact their self-esteem or self-worth.

We automatically assume that if we push our children to be their best, their self-esteem will reflect positively the moment they achieve certain goals. This is not only a dangerous plan, but any success that comes from this will result in a high price that our children will have to pay.

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I want my child to win

Let’s talk sports, shall we? Many of us have children who play soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and a host of other fun sports while they are still in school. We actually encourage our children to join sports teams because we feel it will teach them how to be a team player, how to compete, and how to strive for a goal and feel the joy in achieving that goal.

These aren’t terrible qualities for a child to learn, but what happens when that child simply can’t measure up? How does it make you feel when you witness other parents and children laughing at your child every time he or she fails to make the shot? Do you get defensive or embarrassed? Do you begin to push your child through practice, practice, practice—all so that they can improve their game? Finally, do you find yourself pushing your child even if your child explains their lack of interest in the sport?

Unfortunately, most of the things that we do as parents to improve our children often end with our somehow hindering their ability to be their best. Pushing your child is completely different from merely encouraging your child to be their best, although the line is somewhat thin between them.

Pushing Your Child: Forcing your child to play a sport they hate or dislike, and then forcing them to improve upon that game in which they can’t identify.

Encouraging Your Child: Talking with your child about their interests and then assisting them with discovering ways to learn more about it. If they are curious about swimming, then have them join a swim class to see if this is something they are interested in continuing. Allowing your child to drive the car of their own interest relinquishes your need to push them in any particular direction.

If you find that your child’s lack of success in life (be it sports, grades, or social interaction) embarrasses you, then you might want to ask yourself why? The only way to help your child be their best is to first focus on your own motives. You must dissect your intent by asking if you are trying to compare your child to other children, and if so, are you pushing your child through personal competitiveness?

Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states that some parents measure their feelings about their children’s achievements after they compare them to societal expectations of what success looks like for a child. When you accept societies notion of how a child is supposed to act, look, or win, then you unconsciously place your child in a prison block that limits their ability to feel out life on their own terms.

Children are constantly exploring the world around them. When we limit what they see, hear or feel based on our own understanding of what’s adequate, we take away their ability to learn their own limits and their own abilities to achieve their own goals their way…not ours.

Society has done its number on us as women, parents, and even wives. The media tells us what a successful woman both looks and acts like. It’s always unfortunate because even we struggle to break the stereotype and expectations of society—as we fight to maintain our own integrity and uniqueness.

Why should we repeat these trends and then place them onto our children? If our children prove to be the worst in sports, for example, why can’t we simply accept that maybe that’s not their forte’? Even if our children are struggling to make good grades—why can’t we explore the reality that maybe they have a different learning capacity—rather than accuse them of being too lazy to make the grade?

Before we can assist our children with being their best, we must all look inside and question our own motives. Even if we mean well, our actions can still damage to our children.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

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