The foundation of a life is laid at a very early age. Such moments are critical yet very short and easily missed. Something defined by a parent ultimately becomes the future of not just one, but many others like that one. They sacrifice their night’s sleep for you, their happiness for you and much more. When you want a battery operated toy, and you cry for it, then your dad, who probably needs a new shirt happily sacrifices it for your toy and to see you happy having it. You break it after playing for a couple of days is a different thing.
Let us look at some more ways of how nurturing your child and encouraging them at every step right from the beginning can make a difference.
11. Teach your child to relax – Knowing how to relax is key to peak performance. When you’re relaxed, your mind is clearer, and your body can function at its greatest efficiency. Start with your son’s breathing. Show him what happens in a deep breath. “See how your tummy flattens, then pushes out again? That’s where you really breathe from. Be aware of how that feels.” Teach him how to breathe deeply, to feel the breath as he takes it in.
Step two is to find a single thought that puts him in a relaxed mood. The cue can be thinking of a strain of music, imagining the feel of warm sand on the beach or a breeze riffling through the leaves. Teach him to focus only on that idea until he feels calm. A relaxed mood helps to set aside distractions and zero in on the task ahead.
12. Concentrate, concentrate – Parents often complain they can’t keep their kids’ attention for more than a few seconds. Yet the same kids play hand-held video games for hours. You can sharpen your daughter’s ability to concentrate with little drills. For a very young child, sing a song and ask her to listen closely to the lyrics. Then question her about what she’s heard. Have an older child scan a page of numbers; then take the page away. “What numbers do you remember from the top row?”
13. Rehearse—mentally – A well-known Kathak dancer says she mentally rehearses part of her dance routine movement by movement. She “sees” her facial expressions. She “feels” her arm movements. She “hears” the beat of the music.
Since kids have vivid imaginations, they take readily to visualization. Before an exam, urge your child to study hard and then create a mental motion picture of the whole test, from the instant the class bell rings until students are told to lay down their pencils. After several such visualizations, the test itself will seem routine.
14. Remind your child of success – A good school report card posted where your daughter will seem it reminds her that she can do well—and reinforces the urge to repeat her success. But don’t confine yourself to past triumphs. Inspire your child to additional success with pictures of awards or certificates yet to be won. Add messages of encouragement: “You did it last year! Do it again this year!”
15. Set steps to a goal – Suppose your son sets a goal of 100 percent in mathematics. Draw a flight of steps with the 100 percent at the top. Place the drawing in a prominent place. The first step might be “Be attentive in class.” The second could be “Clarify all doubts with the teacher.” The third: “Solve lots of mathematical problems.” If your son misses one step, that doesn’t mean the goal is lost. He simply reverts to the step before and moves forward again. It’s important, too, that goals be personal ones. The goal should be “100 percent in mathematics,” not “higher marks than someone.” Some parents try to goad their kids with bribes, guilt or fear. All fail.
Your daughter may be delighted to receive a reward in the form of cash for standing first in class. But it’s the recognition, not the money that pleases her. Fear gets results—temporarily. Put a pistol to my head and I’ll do anything you say. But remove the pistol and my first thought is revenge, not better performance.
There are no shortcuts to bringing your child to do his best. It’s a gradual process of support, encouragement, and hard work. And those efforts pay off not only in peak performance but in closer, warmer relations between parent and child.
Our children will leave us all too soon. The more we participate with them now in their school years, the brighter, happier and more confident they will be when they join the world of adults.