Painting A Vision For Your Child
Connect the dots between what they are doing and accomplishing today with the future. They dont have the perspective you do. They dont know what their accomplishment will mean to their life later in life.
What does is mean to become an Eagle Scout at the age of 14? As they work toward this goal of becoming an Eagle Scout they know it is a good thing, but they may not connect the dots to ALL that it may mean. Why do so many boy scouts not reach this goal? Less than 5% that start actually achieve the rank of Eagle. Why? I believe a part of this is that they dont have anyone helping them focus on what they are getting out of the program Now… And… In the future.
The same can be true of many of the activities in our children’s lives. What does it mean to try out of a sport in high school? Sports like track or cross country don’t have a limit for the number of those that can participate. I love that. So, if your child chooses to participate, why? What do they look to get out of it? If your child is like one of mine, they did it because they were told they had to be involved in something physical to get exercise and not be in front of the computer gaming console all the time. But, we also try to connect the dots. Joining track in 9th grade also means meeting people you would not otherwise get to know. It means being more connected at your school. It means being part of a team and all that this has to offer. There is nothing like putting on a team uniform and walking out on the track to participate in a sport together. It means that if you participate over the next four years you will develop deeper friendships that you would not have otherwise. It means that your body gets exercise which strengthens the mind. It means you get additional perspectives on life as coaches coach you through learning new skills. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Having this conversation and connecting the dots is important. Having your child know that participating in (in my example “track”, but insert anything you choose here) will mean something far greater than they are thinking now (because they dont have the perspective you do).
Miss-perceptions. Having this conversation also allows you to clear up misconceptions. Your child may look at you, as mine did, and say “being involved in sports did not stop you from having health issues.” That was interesting. I had to connect some dots. As background, I used to play the center position on my high school basketball team. I also ran 10 miles a day on the off season. I was physically fit to say the least. Age has a way of changing that. I had to connect the dots for my son that it was not that playing sports in high school was supposed to prevent any health issues the rest of my life. It was more that I should have continued the physical fitness regime.
I used the conversation as an example that he was starting on the right track and needed to stick with it. That I was an example of what it looks like if you don’t. I wish I could run 10 miles a day today. Again, all of this is about “painting a vision for your child.” Not about putting anyone down or focusing on the negative, but to have them look inward and better understand their choices and what these choices mean to them Now And in their Future.
Over time, children absorb this additional broadened perspective. If they hear it enough they begin to internalize it. Think about the all important “self-esteem.” If they connect the dots between what they are accomplishing today with what they are destined to become tomorrow, it will add to their self-esteme. Likewise, if what they are doing today is a negative behavior and you are trying to connect the dots that the perspective and outlook for the future is not what they want you (remember come at this from the heart. Recognize that I used the term “not what they want” rather than something like “you will be a worthless drug addict” or what ever). Connect it to their feelings and their heart not what you feel will happen by using your head and describing what is “logical.” Im a very logical thinker. It took my quite some time to realize I live quite a bit in my head. Even when picking out a valentines card… I would do it from my head. “Oh, she will like this one.” Rather then, “This touches my heart and I know it will touch her heart in the same way.” Living from the heart is a completely different way to live. So too, is speaking with your child and connecting the dots. Do so and watch how they begin to internalize and change their perspective of themselves.
Children don’t connect the dots as adults do. They don’t have the perspective. This is what you can offer. Make sure you do this from the heart . From the point of view of love. Not from your head… If you do this you will get in college and then get a good job. This is from the head. You will connect better if you have this conversation from the heart. Having a better chance to get in college and getting a good job may be the result, but what about connecting with your child’s heart? What about friendships, understanding, being connected (at school), being a part of something greater than themselves, or how one year builds upon the other (in high school)? This is from the heart. It “feels” differently than a parent telling them (in essence) go to school and get a good job.
Over time you will get very good at painting a vision for your child from your heart. Dont try it just once. Use this perspective often. Help them gain perspective using the heart not the head.
Blessings to you.