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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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