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5 Things Every Child Needs To Be Successful In Life

5 Things Every Child Needs To Be Successful In Life

It’s safe to say that we want every child to grow up to be successful, good citizens of our society. Where some children lack with some skills, they pick up later on. Whether from circumstances or a good adult mentor, children are like sponges, waiting to absorb as much as possible.

For the most part, we do a pretty good job of preparing our children for what lies ahead, yet fall short in other areas. However, at times, we have grown lazy and complacent in our roles to guide them.

No matter who we are or where we come from, certain principles will always be a part of our success, regardless of what that success looks like.

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With a higher than ever number of teenage and young adult suicides occurring in this county, we need to revisit the needs of our children to ensure they are prepared for the turmoils and struggles life will bring to them once they are out into the “real” world on their own. Nowadays, kids are better at hiding behind their devices—like the fake smile they share with people at school—yet they have never felt more distant from people than they do now.

Here are the necessities every kid needs:

1. A reliable environment

Children need to know they are protected (as much as possible) from the outside world. As they begin to develop, their senses are heightened based on what is around them. If there is constant moving around, children find it difficult to feel safe. They naturally begin to wonder why they are being moved from place to place. This is especially true of children who are moved from foster home to foster home. Their surroundings must remain stable and consistent. They relate to knowing where to find their favorite stuffed animal in their room, for example. It helps them develop trust.

Believe it or not, kids love the familiarity that comes with routines. It helps them understand appropriate boundaries and, as they age, they begin to express their own boundaries on their environment and on the people they are surrounded by.

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2. Opportunities to grow

Kids will not grow unless we give them chances to learn. Whether it be something like learning how to count out money or change a flat tire, it is important for kids to experience real life as it is. Their potential is tied to the moments they are allowed to go outside their normal comfort zone and test their skills. It is in the need to practice what is learned that kids begin to understand why and when these skills will be used later on in life. If we shelter them from learning how to make their own lunch or when to go to a teacher for help, we are doing them a disservice. Time is an essence of life that no one can stop, let alone distort. Growth is merely a stretching of knowledge and kids needs as much knowledge as we can give them.

3. Connectivity

When kids are little, they find comfort in people that care for them. The ones that comfort them when they are afraid and hurt. Whether from a simple touch to eye contact, we as a species need to feel connected to others. When kids feel disassociated from people, they are more insecure and never feel like they belong anywhere.

Emotionally distant adults can give children the illusion that there is something wrong with them, leaving them confused, damaging their self-esteem for a very long time. We associate ourselves as members of a “tribe” also known as a family and when children are young, they need that association—not just because those are generally the people who care for them, but because it is part of their identity.

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4. Encouragement

Words and actions matter and young children need positive encouragement to help them get back up. Too often, adults are quick to point out errors and shortcomings, leaving the child with only mistakes to hold onto. A child will believe whatever is said to them most. Optimism shared with a child can make the biggest difference, giving a kid permission to keep going when he or she would have quit. The boost we give to children supports who they are. By celebrating their individuality along with their given talents and gifts, we inspire a generation where possibility and dreams live vividly. Every word of encouragement and every supportive action confirms our belief in that child, as we become their greatest role models.

5. Problem solving skills

We can’t fix everything. Nor should we try. In order for kids to learn how to think and come up with solutions to everyday issues, they must be allowed to do so. Our role is not to come in and change everything for the best for them. We again are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to pick themselves back up. Whether they forget their homework at home or run out of gas, they need to experience those problems in order to know how to fix them. As adults, we must condition them to be independent thinkers and grant them permission to explore their own potential. Unrestricted behavior as it relates to life’s “hiccups” allows moments to figure out how to be successful. Failure must be a part of life in order for success to be a result of it.

On any given day, most kids spend only 18 years with their parents. Although that sounds like a really long time, those 18 years will never cover every experience or moment that child will need in order to go out into the world prepared to deal with it. If they are lucky, they will live another 70 years.

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As a child grows into adulthood, these five things never truly disappear…they just look a little different. The safe environment becomes a home and a college degree allows one to share knowledge with others. There is a new appreciation of connecting with people. We are drawn to the inspirational words that give us hope, and we are more confident with courage and strength we couldn’t have found had we not been tested.

Success has many different looks, but they all start the same way.

In the eyes of every child, we see endless possibility.

Featured photo credit: Danielle McInnes/Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Published on September 21, 2018

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

1. Find your community and ask for help

As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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2. Make peace with the past

Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

3. Make plans and set goals

The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Look for role models

A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

5. Rethink your priorities

Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. Make time for me time

Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

7. Stay organized

With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

10. Live within your means

When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

11. Spend quality time with your kids

The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

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