There's no doubt that raising children in today's world has
changed. It's a lot harder, and many parents today have to
contend with many difficulties that just weren't there in
former years. How do you handle the complexities of good
parenting? Where do you start?
If you have children, one of the most important questions
you will ever ask is this: "What is the real role of
parenting?" Parents are required to do a thousand different
things in the process of bringing up their children, but
what is the fundamental, central role of parenting? I have
four children of my own, and I have studied this question
for more than twenty years.
The role of parenting is to raise your children with high
levels of self-confidence and self-esteem so that they leave
you feeling completely capable of making their own way and
succeeding in the world. This definition is sufficient to
govern your behavior from the time your child is born to the
time he or she leaves home, and for years afterward.
The biggest single mistake that parents make with regard to
their children is that they conclude, usually unconsciously,
that their children exist to fulfill the parents'
expectations, to be what the parents want them to be.
What I learned very early, an awareness that has helped me
to be a better parent, is that children belong to
themselves. They are not personal possessions. Parents do
not own children. The job of parents entails raising their
children to feel terrific about themselves, to feel capable
of dealing with the inevitable ups and downs of life.
Whether a child comes from a good home with every material
blessing or a poor home with limited resources doesn't
really matter in the long run. What does matter is how
confident the child feels when it comes to setting goals,
making decisions, overcoming obstacles and succeeding in his
or her chosen areas of endeavor. If you raise your children
to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they
decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you
will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.
So how can you plant the necessary seeds in your child's
mind and heart to assure that he or she grows up straight
and strong and capable? First, understand that parents have
a tremendous ability to influence the growth and development
of their child. The little things that you do or say over
the months and years can have a powerful impact on how your
child thinks and feels about himself or herself and how he
or she turns out. It is therefore extremely important that
you be very aware of what you are doing and saying, and why,
and the likely consequences of you words and actions.
Abraham Maslow identified two sets of needs experienced by
every person: deficiency needs and growth needs.
The major deficiency needs are for survival, security, and
belongingness, or acceptance. If a child, or an adult for
that matter, is preoccupied with physical survival and
physical needs, or emotional security, or whether or not he
or she is accepted by others, he or she will continually
think about satisfying these deficiencies. The child will
become tense, anxious, uncertain, and insecure. And the
child will develop fears of failure and rejection, and will
be constantly looking over his or her shoulder.
The primary growth needs that Maslow identified are for
self-esteem and self-actualization. The self-esteem need is
satisfied when the child learns to love himself or herself.
And children love and respect themselves to the exact degree
to which they feel that their parents love and respect them.
Whatever genuine emotions you express toward your children
repeatedly will eventually be impressed deep into their
minds and will have a tremendous impact on forming their
characters and personalities.
The self-actualization need is satisfied when your
relationship with your child is so secure that his or her
energies can be dedicated to being the very best person he
or she can be.
There are two qualities that Dr. David McClellen of Harvard
University has identified as the fundamentals for raising a
happy, healthy child. The first of these is the
establishment of a democratic environment at home. This
means that the child's opinion and views are solicited and
considered from an early age. The child is asked what he or
she thinks about personal and family issues.
My wife and I involve our children in all decisions
affecting them, such as selecting the clothes they wear, the
activities they engage in, the schools they go to and how
they will spend their leisure time. The important thing to
remember about creating a democratic environment at home is
that you do not have to agree with everything you children
want to do. You can argue and disagree when you feel that
their decisions would not be in their best interests over
time. As long as you solicit their opinions and carefully
consider their viewpoints, they will feel that what they
have to contribute is valuable and important to the family.
They then grow up feeling that their ideas can be valuable
and important to any group.
The second ingredient in raising happy, healthy children is
positive expectations. We know that expectations tend to be
fulfilled, one way or another. If you have positive
expectations for your children, they will do everything
possible not to disappoint you.
In planting the seeds of success, it's important to remember
that expectations are not the same as demands. Many parents
think that putting intense pressure on their children to
perform to some particular standard is the same as
expressing positive expectations. But children can be
destroyed psychologically if they believe that their parents
will no longer love them if they do not excel at a
particular subject or sport. Positive expectations that
graduate into ceaseless demands can cause lasting harm to a
One of the most important things you can do in planting the
seed for your children is to continually refer to the
future. Use words like "next time." In regard to a poor
grade in school, for example, you can say something like,
"Next time, if you really apply yourself you can bring that
up a full grade, can't you?"
Or you can use the words, "in the future," or "from now on."
Instead of becoming upset or critical about a particular
mistake that your child has made, you can say something
like, "In the future, you could do it in this way." Or,
"From now on, why don't you try this approach?"
There are three steps to high achievement for your child,
and these steps will remain the same throughout his or her
lifetime. They are:
The acceptance of complete responsibility.
The setting of clear goals and plans for their accomplishment.
The development of persistence in overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.
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How to Raise Happy, Healthy, Self-Confident Children
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Starting when they were very young, I have continually
reminded my children that they are responsible to
themselves. They are responsible to their decisions. They
are responsible for getting good grades and for cleaning
their bedrooms. They are responsible for contributing to the
family. Like a mantra, I have repeated the word
"responsibility" over and over again. And it really works.
It is absolutely amazing how intelligent your children's
decisions will be when you make them fully responsible for
them. Of course, responsibility must be age appropriate. A
young child cannot be responsible for major financial
decisions. But encouraging the level of responsibility that
is appropriate at each age is fundamental to planting the
seeds of success later in life.
Out of the soil of responsibility grow the flowers of goals
and plans. Young people feel like winners to the degree to
which they set goals for themselves and then attain those
goals. Children who learn to set small goals and then
accomplish those goals soon become excited about setting
even larger goals and accomplishing those goals as well.
When a child has achieved a goal, large or small, you should
make a big deal about it. The more you celebrate the
successes of your children, the more they will look forward
to celebrating future successes. Soon they will develop an
unconscious, instinctive drive toward the attainment of
worthwhile objectives. You will have set them up
psychologically for life.
The final step toward high achievement is cultivating
persistence. Children, especially young children, easily
become tired and discouraged in pursuing a goal of any kind.
Your job is not to force them to keep at it; rather, you
need to continually encourage them and guide them when their
interest or attention begins to weaken. Sometimes you need
to get right in there with them and do part of the task
yourself. The most important thing is that they develop the
habit of staying the course until the task is accomplished.
Soon, they will find their own motivation for overcoming
obstacles and adversity as they move toward task completion
and goal accomplishment.
The very best way for children to grow is in the direction
of his or her own natural talents and abilities. Each child
is unique. Each child has his or her own particular agenda.
Your job is to listen to your children, to ask them
questions, to probe and to find out what it is they really
want to do. Then, give them every opportunity possible to do
it. If they decide later that they don't want to do that
particular task or engage in that particular activity, you
should let them off the hook gently and guide them toward
something that will be of greater interest.
Remember, motivation requires motive, and motive is
invariably personal. It is your children's job to try a lot
of different things as they grow up until they find the best
fit. And it is your job to offer encouragement and love to
sustain them during their search. As a parent, the most
important and longest-lasting thing you can ever do is to
raise happy, healthy, self-confident children. You do this
by planting the seeds of success early in life. You help
them accept responsibility, set goals and persist in the
face of adversity until it becomes a habit for them. You
invite their opinions and tell them continually how much you
believe in them. You never use destructive criticism;
instead, you keep them focused on doing better in the
future. And you enhance all aspects of your relationship
with your child with the magic of unconditional love.
When you plant the seeds of future happiness and achievement
in the fertile soil of love and caring, you can be assured
that your children will grow up straight and strong, good
and true. And for the rest of your life, you will enjoy the
In Brian Tracy's audio program, 'How to Raise Happy,
Healthy, Self-Confident Children' you will learn how to
raise your children with high levels of self-confidence and
When you learn these necessary skills - your children will
be happy. Your relationship will be better. Imagine having
more fun and picture spending quality time together.
Take a look now; Brian Tracy's...
How to Raise Happy, Healthy, Self-Confident Children
Copyright © 2001 Brian Tracy International. All Rights Reserved.
About Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is one of the world's leading authorities on
personal and business success. As Chairman and CEO of
Brian Tracy International
he is the best-selling author of several cutting edge Personal
Development books and over 300 audio and video learning
programs. His fast-moving talks and seminars on leadership,
sales, managerial effectiveness and business strategy are
loaded with powerful, proven ideas and strategies that
people can apply immediately to get better results in every
Visit Brian Tracy's web site and take advantage of Brian's
FREE audio program offer - There are several to choose from.
"21 Success Secrets Of Self Made Millionaires" is just one of them.