Thursday, 8 March 2012

What makes a child a successful adult? What do we mean by success?

So, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as I wrestle with my new parental duties, my role, my state of being in life, while I try on different parenting styles and approaches to raising- educating, disciplining, enriching my children (and ultimately myself, I add). Of course I want to give my children the best start in life possible. So, I pack them off to Kindermusik, or swimming or the library program, Sportball, etc...when it's -40, and feel guilty if I keep them at home from one of their activities, worrying that I may be condemning them to a life of hardship. Is it sometimes better to stay home and nap, or just take it easy if someone is having a hard time?

I try not to over-schedule them,but there are so many interesting things to do! I want them to be exposed to all kinds of nurturing, fun and educational goodness. A part of me wonders whether it is all so necessary, if we can't become successful human beings by staying home and playing, or just keeping our activities simple. It's hard to remember that my eldest is only 2.5 and that there is a lot of time still for both of them to see and learn all that they want and need to.

And furthermore, what does a successful human look like? How do we measure success? Certainly, I want my children to be financially comfortable, but I don't want them to grow up thinking that is the only value worth pursuing. I want them to be happy, to do what they love, to even have a chance to discover what it is that they love: music? art? animals? sports? math? science? medicine? language? bugs? So many people go through life never even having an opportunity to explore and discover what it is that really makes them hum with excitement. 

I heard a snippet of a cbc program, I believe it was on Q, a while back that cited a long term study by Dr. Rossman at the University of Minnesota that suggested that the single most important, and indeed the only consistent predictor of success in a child was whether or not the child was assigned chores between the ages of 3 and 4, and of course beyond, but most critically to start assigning age appropriate chores between the ages of 3 and 4. Those children that were assigned chores at that early age grew up to be "successful," meaning that they developed empathy, were better able to cultivate and maintain relationships, developed compassion, an ability to cooperate, and a sense of responsibility and ability to finish tasks, most importantly, their education. Sounds good. Sounds doable. 

I can't find the original reference but here is a blogger who is referring to the study and also offers some helpful tips:

And here's another one:

Here is another interesting study that pinpoints the importance of self-control- and who doesn't need a little more this?!:

So, while engaging our children in nurturing activities involving music, art, science and sports is certainly beneficial and will ensure, if nothing else, that they will become well-rounded, thoughtful individuals, who make good use of their leisure time, who have rewarding personal lives, keeping it simple can work too, and indeed sounds like it is the foundation for every other activity we may pursue throughout our lives.

xo Jo

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