Chong Wai Leng
For us, we will go as far as the moon, if that is where our kids want to go! This is what we call, being fully and whole-hearted supportive. Or you can just say that we are on the crazy side of parenting! If you want your kids to be successful, you cannot just sit back and wait for things to happen. You have got to work hard at giving them your support and encouragement.
1. Be a good example and role model to your kids.
This means it’s time to kick all your bad habits like being a procrastinator, a nagging monster or a perpetual blamer (It’s always other people’s fault!) Because your kids will mirror you in how you think and how you respond to various situations.
Give yourself a little test here:
In uncertain times do you expect the best?
Do you believe that if something can go wrong, it will?
Do you rarely expect things to go your way?
(the above questions are from one of the most widely used evaluations of expectations, The Life Orientation Test, one of the several tools scientists use to determine if a person is an optimist or a pessimist.)
“Some of us are optimists, primarily inclined to expect good outcomes across a variety of situations. Some of us are pessimists, inclined to expect bad outcomes across a variety of situations. The optimists experience generally positive moods characterized by happiness, excitement, and interest. The pessimists experience more negative mood states, often accompanied by distress and anxiety.” (Emotional Longevity by Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.)
So are we born to be pessimists and optimists? If that were so, we would have no control over our fate, would we? Studies have shown that the way we think is something that we have learned in our past. And this can be changed by changing the way we perceive challenges and setbacks. It is not going to be easy for those who are immersed in negative thinking all their lives. But by associating with positive people, they will gradually learn to think more positively. This is why, as parents, we cannot afford to be pessimistic.
My dad was a pessimist. Before he even gets out of the house, he will always say things like, “It is definitely going to be crowded,” or “There will surely be no parking space!” This always caused a great deal of stress for my mom as she tends to think more positively, especially in things related to shopping! Fortunately, I did not end up a pessimist like my dad, partly because of the balancing factor from my mom, and more significantly, I married a perpetual optimist!
2. Savor the taste of success, no matter how small.
Make every little success count. Do not just limit our interpretation of success to something so high up there that it seems quite impossible to attain. If you or your child come to a stage that makes you feel that, “Nothing I do makes any difference,” then you have learned to be helpless. This is called “learned helplessness” because it is something you learned from repeated failures due to a lack of control over your situation.
“Perceptions of uncontrollability lead to feelings of helplessness. Feelings of helplessness lead to depression.” (Dr Norman B. Anderson)
Many youngsters learn to feel helpless because they have not been involved in activities that bring out the best in them. For example, the schooling system that emphasizes reading, writing and math only, will be leaving out those students who learn best using their other abilities like dancing, singing, drawing or other creative expressions. Getting involved in activities that reward discipline and dedication like the various kinds of martial arts like competitive swimming, running and golfing, and learning the ballet or hip hop that give immense satisfaction after long hours of hard work, are good examples.
Your child will learn to be positive and optimistic when he or she gets to experience a sense of achievement from performing well in the activities that they are involved in. Our 8-year- old son was at one time, dragging himself to his aikido dojo. But after he had his first taste of success in getting his colored belt, he was motivated! Now he gets ready in a jiffy and instead of dragging his feet up the stairs, he runs! That is what we call, a highly motivated student. But it is not the colored belts that is driving him – it is his attitude towards learning the art of aikido that is driving him. He has discovered the joys of aikido!
3. Be there for your children
It is very important that parents make themselves present in their children’s activities, like a sports competition, a concert performance, or an aikido grading test. Your child will feel that he or she is important enough for you to show up to show your support. This kind of feeling cannot be replaced. It is priceless!
My parents were the typical Chinese parents who show little emotions other that their anger, and who would not deem it necessary to attend any school-related functions like report card day or prize-giving day. A nod or a grunt were their approving reaction when we brought back our medals or certificates. But if we were to bring home anything with a red colored ink on it, it would be disaster! But fortunately, by the time they became grandparents, they have learned to be more positive and more encouraging. This shows that it is never too late to change! And this is why, that no matter how tough, no matter how far, and no matter how tight our schedules are, we will make our utmost best to be present at our children’s events.
How far you are prepared to go with your kids will determine how far your kids will go in life. Be a role model. Be an optimist.
Be involved! Enjoy your journey together 🙂