Freedom to Succeed


Parents want children to succeed. However we sometimes transmit our anxiety by putting undue pressure on them and inhibit their freedom. Children should be guided to want good things for themselves.

When we command and demand that they follow our orders we take away their freedom.

Which is better; to have the information and facts about things, reflect, and assess the moral implications and consequences of actions before acting? or to have no facts and no thinking, just following of orders?

Which of these approaches do we want for our children?

Preaching, ranting and commanding that our children study, be high achievers or do anything for that matter, can often result in them resisting and rebelling just to prove that they are in control of us and certain actions.

Children must be free to choose their success. We cannot impose it on them. When I realized this I solemnly expressed acceptance of my 8 yr old daughter’s C grades in her report. I told her that the grades she wished to see in her report were entirely up to her. I calmly admitted to her I had zero control over her choices and attitudes and I could only hope she would choose a path that would bring her happiness and success. I handed it all to her to own. Her turn around was remarkable. Within one school year she got all A s.

One of my sons, when in upper six, said that he was tired of studying and was not going to university. I simply told him that that was fine as long as he found a job right after school or found a course of some kind to do.  I never preached or criticized. He was free to choose his path. I just accepted, prayed and waited. To my utter amazement, he applied to universities, did an undergrad and a masters degree.

So how do we motivate them to do well if not by keeping them home to study, preaching and ranting?

Humans generally all want to succeed. No one wants to fail. Failing is humiliating.

Children are aware that their abilities are constantly being measured and compared to others. Self worth is eroded and many lose the belief that they ‘CAN’.

We can motivate our children by ensuring that they feel capable and that they experience lots of successes. We must have continuous loving calm conversations with and around them about the benefits of having skills and an education. Of course there is no better teacher than parental example so living our lives, eager to learn and continuously improve is also perfect for them to witness.

When motivation comes from within a person we say it is intrinsic motivation.

Their good values are motivating them: Values of dignity, hard work, success and achievement rather than an extrinsic motivator such as rewards offered for achievement.

Let us make time to discuss things with our children, exposing them to inspirational stories of those who struggled to work hard and achieve.


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