How to Positively Influence Children to Reach Their Potential

by Dr Angel Adams and Dr Patricia Papciak

Mother and daughter

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.

-Anne Frank-

Last week we looked at some examples of individuals who have given credit for their achievements to others who made an impact on their lives. Today we will focus on how we can help the children in our lives to keep their minds open as they build their future and develop their self-esteem. The word Ubuntu is a classical African concept. It means “I am because you are.” It is the idea that “It takes a village to raise a child” and expands it to the truth that it takes all of us helping each other to make the world a better place.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that: A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole.

It is important to make sure that our children have opportunities to see many different kinds of environments, culture and art, to hear a variety of types of music, languages, accents, animals and birds, and to observe and do many different kinds of activities. Just having the exposure to different cultures and stimulation that varies greatly will help them to be more open to new things when they come along. Children often resist something new because it is unfamiliar to them, but parents and teachers must encourage initial exposure as we live in a dynamically changing world.

If you interact with children and young people in your daily life, you have the power to shape their self-image. You can positively influence and inspire greatness even in small ways. Here are 7 small tips to begin your thinking process.

  1. Watch and listen carefully to your child (or student) in an effort to learn what their passions are. Take what they have succeeded in and expand on it. Be interested in what they find interesting and what they are naturally good at and what their own personal aspirations are.
  2. Find books that support your point of view as well as the interests of your children in order for your child to see more than one side to everything (and not to get stuck in their own mindsets). Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote a book for children called: Incredible YOU! 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through! In his Introduction to the book he writes:”My desire is to have all of the children of the world grow up knowing within that they are indeed incredible, divine beings. This book was written and designed with this one idea in mind.” Here are the 10 topics he suggests for children to reach their potential:
    1. Share the Good
    2. Find What You Love
    3. You are Filled with Love
    4. Find a Quiet Place Inside
    5. Make Today Great!
    6. Change Your Thoughts to Good
    7. Take Care of Yourself
    8. Picture What You Want
    9. Everyone is Special, Especially YOU
    10. Good Thoughts Give You Energy

    The following link provides resources for parents, educators, and mentors who want to inspire children to become caring global citizens. It also provides a book called The World Needs Your Kid in which you can read the first 26 pages online:

  3. Encourage your children or young people in your life to follow through on their interests without being judgemental. Further explore their interests such as finding new things at libraries, connecting with others who are also interested in what they are, and learning about and joining organizations that support their interests.
  4. Expose your child to great role models. We’re not talking about batman or superman. There are plenty of real life heroes in your community or associated with your religious and/or cultural affiliations. There are youth who care about sustainability and the environment: There are young adults who volunteer all around the world to help people in need. There are thousands of organizations involving youth that are making a difference to this planet and to humanity. Try to involve your children when they are young and impressionable with others who are contributing to the world before they grow older and are may be exposed to disaffected youth who have lost their respect for themselves and others.
  5. Avoid any criticism of your child. If you find that the interests of your child are unhealthy or dangerous then the first step is to problem solve with the goal to help guide and motivate them to take the right direction.
  6. Show patience to your child. Being patient with your child can help to turn their aspirations and dreams into reality. Frustration is more likely to thwart their ambitions. If you become frustrated, reframe the situation at hand with a light-hearted approach. Laughter is much better for your health than the stress that comes with a short fuse and exasperation. Remember, for every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of joy with your child. When you are patient you are a mindful parent and this always brings you back to connecting with your child in the present moment.
  7. Allow your child to ask questions, and answer them carefully even if they seem somewhat frivolous to you. He may just want to get your take on what he is thinking.

A peacock

Finally, what can we learn from the peacock? When looking for inspirational stories and facts about proud animals or birds, we came across this exotic bird. A peacock has a varied and interesting background in many cultures. It is a symbol of personal pride and was displayed on many coats of arms during the days of chivalry. Men were often heard to take oaths of great importance “on the peacock.” The beauty of its iridescent feathers held many people in awe.

As a parent you can help your children to feel comfortable when they are noticed for a talent and feel proud of the gift they have. They can unfold their creative power as the peacock unfolds its magnificent tail. Teach them to shine out in their beauty and creativity. Encourage your children to be all that they can be. Love your children and stand in awe of the beauty of their development. You will be loved in return.

This short clip entitled “A Peacock in the Land of Penguins” is great for children to learn more about how important diversity is in the world.

“Everyone has the power for greatness—not for fame, but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”

-Martin Luther King Jr-

Please leave some comments below about ways you have found to motivate your children or young people to follow their aspirations and simple everyday actions that inspire your child to do more for the world.

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