Summary: this article is for parents of teenagers who want to see their children in prestigious schools, have a good life, go to university, find a good job, and embarc on a successful career.
There is a principle in business: if you want to effectively manage others, learn to manage yourself. In other words, no one will listen to you if you fail to become a role model for others and to demonstrate that you are a leader with a capital letter. More importantly, your leadership should be achieved through positive influence and not authoritarianism.
We may remember and implement such principles in our work environment. Yet, when we get home after a challenging day at work we forget the ideas of positive influence and example and attempt to build up a hierarchy (at least as far as our own children are concerned). Somehow we feel that our status of a parent gives us the right of unlimited control.
It would be great to stop for a moment and ask ourselves a question: how effective is such an approach? Does it bring expected results? Do our children comply with it? And if so, do they do it out of respect or by suppressing their own interests and ambitions?
Why are we confronted with challenges and failures instead of expected success?
Despite all our best efforts (or so we think), we may notice that there is no sign of an expected result. On the contrary, our child’s grades have worsened, he starts making questionable friendships, gets secretive and closed, his interest in his studies diminishes and he seeks any excuses to do whatever else but his studies. Even more alarming, he begins gaining weight and overeating.
Such developments are similar to those we can witness in business organisations: talented people need a nourishing atmosphere to strive and reveal their skills. A talented employee would not be able to deliver any significant results in the long run if he is undervalued and feels a pressure of immediate delivery of expected results. In a similar way, both children and employers suffer when they see how their achievements are interpreted as merits of their parents or bosses while their failures are treated as purely their own fault: my child has passed his exams, this is because I am a great parent; my child has failed, this is his own fault, he didn’t work hard enough.
How to build a trusting relationship with your child?
The most important thing we have to do as the parents is to recognise the child's personality, help him make a choice and talk about its consequences. The function of clarification and guidance in life lies with the parents. Their other task is to trust the choice of their child and respect it, to help the child to follow and fulfil his dream even if they do not agree with the initial choice.
The next important step is to define the zone of parents’ responsibility. Parents should be able to create favorable conditions for the child’s studies as well as a positive attitude towards education. Quite often a parent who once has failed in their own studies develops such a fear of failure that they project their own negative scenario on their children. As a result, such a parent does not offer their child real support but rather creates the atmosphere of pressure and fear of failure.
Subsequently, it is important to understand and assess whether a child is able to complete his studies independently. It is very important to pay attention to the child’s mental health and his emotional well-being. If your child sends signals that he is overwhelmed and under pressure, you shouldn’t ignore this. Often, a child does not express such concerns verbally but through his behaviour or state of his health. He may start getting ill more often than usual, developing some allergies, beginning to gain or lose weight, suffering from headaches, tiredness and the lack of motivation. All these are the signs of stress in your child.
What can a parent do in such situations?
Talk to your child, without pressure or any expectations. Refrain from scolding and moralising. The goal is to understand what is happening to him, where he is at this moment. You must be prepared for the fact that you may not like what you are about to hear; it may even make you feel angry, etc.
You need to assess how competent you are to solve your child’s problem? How much your vision of the situation and advice are able to help your child? Do you reflect based on your own life experience or you try to see a situation through the eyes of your child?
Think about such an example: You are well versed in the exact sciences, and your child struggles with maths. How will you behave? Will you be shocked and angry that your child does not understand basic arithmetics or will you patiently help him to figure it out?
If you are unable to help or your level of knowledge is insufficient in a given field, seek outside help. You can always find a coach, a tutor or a course for your child to practice and improve his skills. Even if you yourself have a degree in maths, for example, it does not necessarily mean that you will be able to explain any maths problem in a way that a child understands.
The most important thing in the entire process is that when you have done everything in your power (see above), it is a due moment to start trusting your child, his abilities, his talents, and his life path. Support him, be a positive example. Even if something does not go according to your plan (your child will choose not to go to a university, for example), it does not mean that he will be unsuccessful or unhappy. Your task as a parent is to be there and to be his support.
In order to be ready for any set of circumstances, you need to start preparing in advance. You need to be there for your child and help him to create a study routine which is easy to maintain throughout the years of education. Likewise, there needs to be a peaceful emotional atmosphere that surrounds anything related to the education of your child. Your child should not feel a pressure of delivering expected results. If you have noticed any signs of negative mental or emotional state in your child, such as stress, irritation, distrust, panic, poor sleep, physical manifestations, do not wait that they go away but seek, instead, professional help from a psychologist, therapist or coach. Try to keep yourself and your child focused on positive mental and emotional states: trust, relaxation, focus on the good, love - all this leads to a positive result.
If you suspect that you or your child have fears or experience stress, contact us and we will discuss with you a plan for achieving the goal that is right for you and your child.
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“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…”
(W. Shakespeare, As You Like It)
We believe that each and every one of us is not only a leading actor but first and foremost a writer of our own destiny. Overwhelmed by life events, we may unintentionally forget that we are the sole playwrights of our own lives. We may even unwittingly drop or lose the thread of our unfolding life story. Then, we start questioning ourselves and let others do the writing for us. Doesn’t this happen to all of us occasionally? The best thing we can do is to resume the leadership as soon as we can: only we should write the play of our life!
With the renewed confidence and new skills, we design new perspectives. Coaching and training are the best instruments we use to achieve this goal.