The goal of every parent is to raise a child that is successful, happy, and healthy. One that will do well in school and then do amazing things when they grow up. While this isn’t a bad goal by any means, and should in fact be the prerogative of any good parent, it should be said that sometimes parents might go too far with it. Especially when it comes to academics.
Studies have shown that raising your child with this mindset might be detrimental to their health and performance in the long run. A child’s future and success shouldn’t be and isn’t solely determined by their academic achievements.
Children need to have room to grow in all aspects of themselves, and to gain a wide balance of experience in not just academics, but at life as well.
With parents focusing so heavily on their children’s academic success, the opportunity for a balanced lifestyle might just go out the window. Fixating too much on their formal education will make it hard to raise a child that is well-rounded and prepared for the future.
How to Raise a Well Rounded Child
Have Your Child Do Their Own Chores
According to Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book How to Raise an Adult, raising children so that they will do their own chores will present them with a whole host of benefits. She believes that children raised on chores will go on to become team players in their jobs later in life. Chores will give them the ability to be more empathetic to the plights of others, as they’ll understand hardship and struggle, as well as teach them independence and problem-solving skills.
More than that, doing chores with the promise of compensation once completed will teach them about delayed gratification. If you tend to spoil your children, they will grow up thinking that the future will be easy and they are entitled to get whatever they want without working for it.
But if they realise that they can only gain rewards through hard work, they will come to equate effort to high rewards. Something that will come in useful when they reach their teenage years and enter the working world.
Consider Teaching Them a Second Language
One of the opportunities that living in Singapore has afforded us is its rich melting pot of cultures. Aside from the different foods, cultures, and ethnicities to be found here, another thing us Singaporeans have access to are the tools to learn a second language.
In the competitive working world that will most likely continue to be competitive in the future, fluency in a second language will give your child an edge over the competition.
Not only that, but it has been proven that children who know a second language reap plenty of benefits, such as giving them a boost in creativity and problem-solving skills. They are capable of differentiating the sounds of the different languages and rarely get confused between the two. This is due to bilingual children being “mentally flexible” with much better memory and memorisation skills.
Teach Them Emotional Intelligence, EQ
Children are often thought to be unable to understand complex emotions or even be completely incapable of comprehending them, but this is actually untrue. With children growing and developing at a rapid rate, they are constantly noticing, reacting, and adapting their ideas based on how they react emotionally. And more often than not, they will base their reactions off of those of the adults in their lives.
Parents will try to shield their children from tough emotional situations, thinking that they’re protecting them. When in actuality, they should be using it as an opportunity to teach kids about how and why they are reacting to the situation emotionally in this way. Sometimes, they will need reassurance that their reactions are completely normal and how to deal with them.
When you teach kids to recognise their feelings, understand where it comes from, and how to deal with their emotions, you are giving them one of the essential tools for success in life. In fact, children that have been taught emotional intelligence have been said to develop strong social skills and empathy for their peers. Giving them the skills to be much more successful later on in their relationships, earn higher grades, and make healthier choices when they reach adulthood.
Whether they are creative or entrepreneurial souls, encouraging them to pursue their own interests will let your child be exposed to a wide array of activities. If your child is exhibiting an interest in music, you should support their interests and let them to try out a nearby piano class. First classes are often free or you could ask a friend with a piano for permission to test it out. Or maybe your child is interested in art, in that case, buying them a sketchbook and some pencils will go a long way.
Foster their curiosity and let explore the world. Curiosity paves way for creativity, something that in recent years is often stamped out of children early on in their youth. Let children ask questions and, if you don’t know the answer, help them figure out the solutions themselves.
A little bit of encouragement in their academics will go a long way as well. Some children do better in school when under pressure, while others might improve with more encouragement. Praise them for their effort in classes, even if their grades are not as high as you want, and make sure that they know that failure is not the end.
Let Them Make Their Own Decisions
Letting children make their own decisions lets them form their own opinions, build confidence, learn responsibility, and discover themselves. That isn’t to say that children don’t need guidance or rules, but giving them the option of making their own choices will give them some agency in their lives.
Allowing them to have a say in minor decisions – like choosing which movie to watch or what to have for dinner – lets them feel like they are heard in the family and that their opinions matter. What they decide to do could end up having a successful outcome or it could give them an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Their decisions might not always have the best outcome, but whatever they do, whether good or bad, will teach them to take responsibility for their actions. That even when something turns out terrible, it is still something they chose for themselves. And when things turn out alright, they will gain a sense of confidence, in their abilities and in their decision-making skills.
When it comes down to it, raising a child is not an easy job. Many parents will make mistakes and a lot more might find themselves overwhelmed. But the most important thing in the end is that parents need to do well by their children and do their best to prepare them for the future however well they can.