It seems we only hear about kids doing amazing things in the news, and often times we wonder why the kids we do know are not as motivated as the kids doing amazing things. We wonder, why don’t those kids want to go out and go something great for their community? A lot of times the kid is not allowed the opportunity to explore what all is out there. A child always has to wait for the parent to say when they can go somewhere, when they can do something, and so the child becomes conditioned to always wait on the parent for things. It is not until the child starts to learn about events taking place around them that they start to beg their parents to take them places. This usually comes in the form of a school announcement about a festival or a commercial they saw.
In the following stories about these exceptional kids I will break down just how these kids came to be exceptional and why your parenting style has a huge impact on your child’s future. The research in the four major parenting styles has been around for a very long time with proven end results for each style. A parent who listens to their child and understands what they are trying to say will raise a child who understands that what they say is important versus a parent who always expects their child to do as their told and not talk back, regardless if they have something to say or not. These kinds of children grow up believing that what they have to say does not matter because they were always told to be quiet and do as their told. Which child to you think will grow up to be successful in life?
Your Parenting Style Determines Your Child’s Future*
This concept has been around as long as the research on behaviorism and conditioning have been around. (Side note: Please do not think that I am working off of only those two areas of development, I am using those two as a starting point since they were the first major areas of research in human behavior, which would later go on to be applied to child rearing practices) A parent who is active and very social will be a good role model for their child to learn that if you want to make more friends you need to go out and join programs. You can not make excuses, so by getting up early every saturday morning and attending events your child begins to pick up clues from how you start a conversation with a stranger.
If you want your child to wash their hands every time they get home they need to see you do the same. If you want your child to learn proper manners they need to see you do it all the time. Getting mad at them for not doing it doesn’t fix anything, it just creates tension. Children monitor everything a parent does so if you see habits your child has picked up and not sure where they got it from then you need to self-monitor to find out if you were teaching it to them without even knowing it.
The story of one of the kids below, Jacob, started when his mom was looking for an opportunity to show their kids how to help others. This meant that his parents made the valid effort of going out and finding a program that will show their kids how others are helping people in need. Your child first needs to see that there is a problem from how other people respond. Watching people working together to prepare meals for hungry and sick people is a great motivator for the child to see that there is a major problem and that it is real. Children are told all the time that there are starving kids in Africa and that they should always eat everything on their plate but they don’t understand or care because it doesn’t affect them personally. They don’t physically see the relationship.
Jacob, because of social cues in his environment, felt the need to help others so started his own program that would help raise money to feed people. He knew he was a great athlete and he knew how other people raised money by joining marathons and sport competitions, so he became a triathlete and raised money that way. Would any of that have happened, if his parent’s didn’t show him food banks? The answer is no. He would have stayed a regular kid and just gone about his business like so many other kids who always complain about being bored.
Want to get your kids involved in other people’s lives? Here are a few starting places
– Teach your kids basic sign language and have them join programs for deaf kids, this will not only encourage them to get better with their sign language but also improve their social skills in a different way.
– Help your child improve their reading by having them read to the blind, either at homeless shelters or hospitals. (Hospitals are always looking for volunteers for all kinds of programs.) Another way is to have your child read to a younger kid who is just learning as well, if you can not find anyone, many libraries have reading dogs that are trained to listen to someone read.
– As a family go and work at a soup kitchen for the homeless
– Teach your child to build (vegetable) gardens and compost piles for other people in need
– Teach your child about other kids who are in jail and have them write letters to them during the holidays and year round.
– Teach your child about how food works in the world and ask them to save a portion of their allowance to help pay for past due lunch accounts at school so other kids can eat, like Cayden did.
How active you are as a parent in the community will translate to how active your child becomes in the community.
Be the Person You Want Your Child to Be
This may sound like common sense but you will be surprised how many times I have seen horrible situations get worse. I have seen parents complain to their child about not getting good grades in school but the parent is never there to help, or can’t help because they don’t understand the homework. If you want to show how important school is then make them understand how important it is to study by setting time aside every time they get home from school and on the weekends.
Want your child to read more?
Then make sure to set aside quiet time in the house just for that at the same time every night
Want your child to make more friends?
Join organizations where other children will be there (remember they need to see you do it first before they do). Make sure your child has X number of sleep overs a month and in the summer. Many parent’s don’t realize how important sleepovers really are to developing proper social skills. Boys will bond over movies and video games, especially movies that are action packed and video games like Halo.
Want to teach your child about responsibility?
Get them to start babysitting at an early age for other kids after school or weekends (let the other parent know you, as the parent, will be there in the beginning so your child can understand what to do, plus making money is a great motivator for the child to learn)
Want your child to be active in sports?
Join a gym or sport events as a family and then slowly transition them to team sports in their age group. Go on hiking or camping trips as a family on the weekends.
When Your Dad is a Surfing Pro
Most people think that any child under 5 years old is too young to be doing anything big or dangerous in their life probably doesn’t know what it means to experience life to its fullest. “Baby Steve” Roberson has been surfing since he was 2 years old and now he can surf on waves five times his size with no fear at all. His older twin brothers, Justin and Eric, who are both 8, also enjoy surfing and can hang-ten with the best of them. So does it really matter that their dad is surfing champion Kaleo Roberson? It has everything to do with it infact.
They say that if you want to be the best at something you have to work on it every day until people start giving you awards or paying you for it. That is when you know you have made it. Kaleo, in an interview said, that he got his boys in the water as soon as he could and got them on a board right after that. He would hold the boys on his surf board while he surfed to show them what it felt like. You have to have amazing balance to do that. But then again there are dogs who love surfing too and make a difference in people’s lives so it shouldn’t be that hard to learn, right?
Surfing is hard in the beginning just like everything else when you first start out but when you have the right support, and this goes for anything, anyone can become great at something. Steve’s dad taught him what he knew so his son had all the support he needed, if he fell right off, his dad picked him up and put him right back on the board. He made sure that fear never got the best of his sons, plus it also helps to have a home near a beach that is known for having great surfing conditions. All these factors matter when it comes to success, but is not a requirement as history has shown over and over again individuals overcoming adversity to rise to the top. The other contributing factor is to not fault your child for when they get tired or don’t pick up on something right away. I have seen this plenty of times when a parent gets mad at a child for not listening the first time and they just give up. The important thing is to not let anger, in any form, interfere with learning.
Want your kid to become a surfing pro? Then make sure you take them everyday to the beach to practice. Want your kid to be the best at math but you suck at it? Get them a tutor who has the patience to show them how easy it can be? Want to teach your kids to learn how to appreciate film and TV shows? Take them to film festivals and talk with others about what they just watched with similar minded individuals. Want your kid to learn to appreciate the fine art of recycling? Show them how their actions help the planet.
In the video of the dog who loves to surf, it is important to understand how she was trained so you have an idea of how she became a superstar fundraiser for people with disabilities. Her trainer was there everyday all the time making sure that she learned what she needed to because the intention was to turn her into a service dog for someone with a disability. They worked all the time but when her trainer saw that she had an interest in birds it jeopardized her training and had to be stopped.
How many times have parents given up on their child because things got difficult? No one said parenting was easy and those that say that probably don’t spend the “quality” time they should be, and no this does not mean taking them to the movies and eating out, it means, making sure they sit down and study and do their homework on a regular basis, making sure that they understand what is expected of them without getting mad or frustrated. The movies and eating out is the easy part, the homework and chores is where the parenting style is put to the test.
Ricochet, the SURFive dog, found an interest in something else and her trainer encouraged that new found interest, when most other trainers would have given up on her, meaning the world would have lost a special service dog. Ricochet is now a service dog for crippled surfers and other handicapped individuals that want to surf. Her training taught her how to surf with people to protect them while surfing. How many countless hours did that take? The same countless hours it takes to make sure your son or daughter does well in school or on personal projects. Exceptional means hard work with encouragement right behind it.
Where Exception Meets Everyday Life
There is no secret formula to success, so i will give it to you right now, just don’t be disappointed by what I have to say. Success comes with hard work and countless hours, months or even years. If you want to write a book then you have to sit down and write, no one else is going to do it for you. Need to lose weight? Then get your butt up and moving and out that door. Want to raise an exceptional kid, then you have to start making changes in your own life first. Your child needs to see you make the first move before you start asking them to make big changes in their life.
Cayden saw this first hand about what it means to not be able to eat a school lunch when he witnessed a child’s school lunch being taken away from him because he didn’t have any money in his account. This happens everyday to kids in school and it is not the kid’s fault either because school’s base that whole system off of how much their parents’ make, so it falls on the parent to make sure there is enough money in the kid’s account but that is beside the point. Schools’ should not take away a child’s lunch, instead they should just apply it to the account and let the child eat. Study after study (again with more studies being done and ignored) show that a balanced meal helps a child do better in school, so if the school itself is a direct factor in a child’s performance and they take away a child’s lunch then they are contributing to the very thing they want to prevent?
In order to prevent this from happening Cayden created a program that raised money to help pay past due accounts so kids could eat lunch. Cayden has seen first hand how important it is to help others because of the social stigma of not being able to afford lunch at school which can have a serious impact on a child’s psyche. It also encourages kids to label that kid as poor or a social outcast. By getting more people involved Cayden is learning what it takes to make change happen and that it all starts with one person each and every time.
So…you want your child to do something great in life? Here are my suggestions, if I haven’t provided enough already.
– Don’t restrict them in what they are interested in doing. Do they like action movies? Sit down and watch them together and talk (afterwards, NOT during the movie) about what they liked, didn’t like, even if they are 8 years or 11 years old or 4 years old. Star Wars is a movie for little boys and that is who the audience is geared towards, just look at this little boy’s reaction when he found out at the end who Luke’s father was.
– Attend more events in your city. It’s important to get your kids out of the house as much as possible to show them all the things happening. When they see others doing stuff it encourages them to open up more. Is your kid shy? Joining a circus arts institute program can help them with that or even an improv class for kids, while at the same time learning a new skill and getting exercise.
– Want your child to play more? Make it a point to visit different playgrounds. There are places now where there are playgrounds for adults too, because hey, everyone is young at heart. If your child is handicapped many cities now have playgrounds for handicapped kids, be sure to look one up since it is now part of the American’s with Disabilities Act as a right to access for play areas. If I had money I would build lots of these all over.
– If your child is struggling in their level of math pair them up with a student in a grade below them to teach younger kids, who are also struggling, how to do math. The mentor relationship will teach the older child how to improve their teaching style but will also refresh them on math tips they might have forgotten. They will begin to improve in their own math level after teaching it to younger students.
The kids I profiled here are just a few out of the many amazing kids out there doing amazing things. There are lots of other kids who are teens that I have talked about before in my previous post that you can learn about. There was a 14 year who created his own nuclear reactor, so when given the right support kids will surprise you.
If you want to get your child something great this year here are a few gift ideas
– Coupon Book made up of special moments for your child to use (i.e. a night together with mom, a night together with dad, special day with mom or day, a don’t get angry at me coupon, my favorite breakfast, trip to the ice cream store) which they can use anytime they want.
– A Season pass (or gift card, membership card) to the Zoo, city museum, Hackerspace, work out gym, gymnasium, etc. (In light of the night at the museum movies, the museum of natural history in New York City offer sleepovers with scavenger hunts and flash light adventures.)
– Flying Lessons which might get them interested in getting their pilot’s license
– $100 dollars with the intention that they find a cause worth donating to
If you need more ideas about how to get your child active and helping others read the book “How to be an Everyday Philanthropist” it will give you lots of great ideas.
So remember, if you want your child involved in something great you need to make the first move. Making them join a worthy cause when they know you are at home just sitting there watching TV won’t encourage them to get involved with the program it will just encourage them to watch the clock so they can get back home.
Kids in Profile
6 Year Old Surfing Prodigy
Jacob, the Triathlete
Jacob appears on GMA
Cayden, a Philanthropist
Cayden helps pay for school lunches
To Learn about more exceptional Kids check out Citizen Kid
* – I do need to point out that there are certain kids who are born just naturally gifted and end up in families where the parent’s could care less how well their child did in school. These kids have the resilience, talent, and natural gifts to understand everything they are taught, not to mention, the natural discipline to manage their life on their own. Many times these children are prodigies in their own right. I knew many kids growing up who came from bad homes but were straight A students, this shows they had the ability to push through all the negative but it also goes to show that behaviorism is not a solid base since children in these types of homes learn not to follow what their parents teach them. A trait that has saved a lot of these kids’. If you want to learn about kids overcoming adversity then you can learn how these kids work in the fields all day but also make sure they attend school as well and how this one school in New Jersey is helping them.