Parenting for personal excellence

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Not just because there is no manual but mainly because our emotions are involved and we are so committed to out child or children. In line with our series on building confidence we have seen and learned how so many children today are ashamed when they cannot achieve perfection. One nine year old boy I read of recently said, “If I try something and it doesn’t work out, sometimes I don’t even finish it or try again, because I worry that I won’t get it right ever.”
What a shame that is that his concern is not about him doing his best and persevering, but there is something else out there that has him worried. What can we do as parents?

  • First teach them that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. We cannot all be great artist, or the quarterback, or musician. There are multiple intelligences in the world and we as individuals need to take step two.
  • Second encourage them to seek personal excellence over perfection. It’s all right for them to be imperfect. We are all works in progress and everyone of us is continuing to work on improving in some area of our life. Sometimes it is good to share with them our own mistakes and the lessons we are learning from them. That will show them that we are not afraid of mistakes and that we are willing to confront them and correct them.
  • Third we need to show them that we are happy with them when they do the best they can do. That means that not just the perfect picture, spelling test or math quiz goes on the refrigerator. It is a good idea to show case work that is less than perfect, especially if they put a great deal of effort into doing it. One ten year old girls said, “I hate it when mom puts my spelling test on the wall when I get a hundred and she throws away the others, even when I just get one crummy thing wrong.”

Doing these things will allow our children to form their own personal standards of excellence, instead of feeling as though they must conform to the standards set by others.

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