Fostering Your Child’s Drive to Succeed

by | Skill Development

While there are some kids out there who seem naturally inclined to excel at sports or strive for their best in school, not all children are born ambitious. That’s where you as a parent might need to step in and foster your child’s drive for success. Though they might seem as though they are disinterested or lazy, perhaps they just need some encouragement in order to jumpstart their engine.

Some children are naturally drawn to certain activities; they may catch a glimpse of an NHL game and decide that they want to try hockey, or might see a clip of John Mayer playing guitar and get inspired. But if your child seems more interested in video games and television, you will need to push them in the right direction. While video games and television are fine in moderation, encourage them to develop other interests or activities. One of the easiest ways to do this is by exposing them to lots of different options. Research what types of activities are available in your town or city and compile a list of 5-10 you think they might like to try. Try as best you can to diversify them – a few sports, some dance classes and music or art lessons are a good place to start. Then leave it up to your child to pick three that they are interested in.

Taking an active role in your children’s activities will also allow you to see their reaction. Ask them if they are okay with you sitting in on some classes or practices – you’ll be able to tell right away whether or not they are having fun. Also, ask instructors or coaches about how your child is performing and fitting in when you’re not there. If you notice your child talking about or making reference to a certain activity even when you are at home or doing other things, that’s a good sign that they are enjoying themselves.

Cultivating your child’s ambition also involves helping them make a connection between an activity and the positive feeling it gives them. If your son has learned a new song on the piano, or your daughter is showing off a new combination she learned at Tae Kwon Do, make sure you give them lots of praise for their hard work and achievement. This will encourage them to self-reflect and say, “Yes, I did work hard at this and I feel good.” Whereas many parents reward their children with gifts or money, doing so only makes it harder for kids to find the motivation to succeed simply because it feels good. Positive affirmation is the best reward you can give.

It is also important to note areas where your child may show signs of struggle. Continue to cheer your child on through this, but also to empathize with their frustration; praise them for trying, whether or not he or she succeeds. Learning that struggle, and even failure, is a natural part of life and will teach your children the importance of resilience, and make them realize that they can get that same good feeling just from trying their best, though they may not always succeed. Also, share your own failures and feats with your children: if you landed a new position, tell them how you worked hard for it and how great it feels. If you didn’t get that promotion you were hoping for, tell them you are disappointed but you aren’t going to give up. It will help them to see that everyone goes through the same things, no matter what age you are.

Boosting their confidence and fostering their ambition is one of the best things you can do for your children’s future. You already know that they are their own unique, amazing person with their own talents, but helping them to see themselves in the same way is instrumental in helping them grow into well adjusted young adults.