Parenting children

Parenting Children: How to Get Kids to Give It Everything They’ve Got

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Do Your Best

We tend to think parenting is only about knowing what’s best for our kids.

I mean, how much time do you spend trying to decide what class to put Junior in, how to nurture his interests so he’ll be a well-rounded individual, how to help him overcome his character faults so he’ll be a credit to society…the list goes on and on.

But did you ever stop to think that all of the opportunities you present for your child will fall by the way if you can’t get him to give everything he tries his absolute best? Think of how many times we sabotage our child’s efforts by asking to see a test, only to remark, “Oh, you got an 80? What did the other kids get?”

You know what, it doesn’t matter what the other kids got. What matters is, did your child do the best he could do? Did he give that essay, that math worksheet, that crayon drawing, everything he’s got?

One thing I remember about my mother is that she never really cared if we got good grades. That sounds strange, especially if you consider the fact that I was a top student and young for my grade. But it didn’t really matter what grade I got, as long as I did my best.

If I was only able to do B- work (math, my mortal enemy) then she was okay with that. But if I was able to get an A+, and I got anything less than that, then her deep disappointment was enough to set me straight.

Of course, that puts an incredible burden on a child, to some extent, especially if you confuse perfection with doing your best. But a burden can also be a form of deliverance, giving us the strength we need to go farther than we ever thought we could go.

Although I’m about as far from being a football fan as peaches are to porcupines, I want you to take a look at this clip. It’s a great example of how we as parents can help our kids give their absolute best:

Notice what made him an effective coach:
1) He asked his player to give him his personal best – not someone else’s “best.”
2) He broke the task down into manageable steps (only 40 more steps, only 50 more, etc.)
3) He stayed with his player the whole time to support his efforts.
4) He was quite strong with him – even shouting at him – but it was all positive.
5) He “demystified” the whole process by explaining to him exactly how that smaller success could lead to bigger ones.

A good coach is a perfect example on how to parent from the inside out. A good coach realizes that his job is to help his players do his best. At the same time, his ultimate goal is to put himself out of a job, because ultimately he wants his players to get so good that they go on to the big league.

As a parent, our children will go on to the big league whether they’re ready or not. And, while we’ll always be parents to our children, there’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your child make it to the end zone.

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