Raising Your Child as a Winner

Parents hope and dream that their children will be winners – not just in sports or music or drama competitions, but in life. It takes effort to conquer adversity. The following guidelines will help us help children become the winners God created them to be.

1. Get off to a good start. Showing children that you believe in them can’t start too early. Spending time with arms outstretched to catch a toddler after his first steps surrounds that child with a basic knowledge of your assurance that he can do it. Praising her daughter for cleaning her room to the best of her present ability reinforces her determination to please you and helps her grow.

One wise mother said, “If I can instill in my children the feeling of self-worth God wants them to have, I will consider myself as a good mother.” Don’t wait for school honors or community awards. Post those prekindergarten pictures on your refrigerator no matter how confusing they may be. Keep that poorly glued waste basket and crooked-stitched pot-holder in plain view. Doing this expresses how important your children’s efforts are.

2. Instill the courage to challenge. Years ago too many people believed a mentally, physically, or emotionally handicapped child could do little more than be. Thanks to activities such as Special Olympics, parents training, and support groups, millions of children are now not only allowed to develop to their fullest capacity, but they are being encouraged to do so.

Inspiring stories of achievements almost beyond belief by those whom others didn’t expect to succeed often end with a testimonial: “I was never told I couldn’t – so I did.” Or: “Mom [or Dad or another understanding older person] simply said, ‘It may take you a little longer. Just do your best.’ “

Every parent should learn from these attitudes and to put them into practice in relationships with their own children.

3. Encourage the best effort. “My picture isn’t as good as Jane’s,” Melissa sadly proclaimed. Her sensitive kindergarten teacher quickly responded, “We can’t be the best in everything. Jane has a wonderful talent for drawing. You are a good singer Melissa. Kevin can make up exciting stories. Jimmy’s biggest talent is his happy smile. The important thing is be your own best, not to try to compare with someone else’s best. Do you understand?” “I think so”, Melissa said. Her teacher smiled, “You like to draw, don’t you?” “Sure!”, the little girl thought of all the fun she had making pictures. “Then just enjoy it and let the class enjoy your work. Don’t worry about anything except doing the best you can”. “OK.” Melissa picked a marker and started a new picture.

Every parent can gain new insight shown by Melissa’s kindergarten teacher. Unfortunately some of us fall into the trap of “Your brother never had any trouble with math” or “When I was your age, I could kick a soccer ball farther than anyone in my class.” Yet every time an already-uncertain child is compared with another, he or she is put into a competitive situation – and too often against those exceptionally skilled in some area.

Encouraging your children to be their “own best” is vitally important in helping to shape their lives. The real winners in life are those who first accept themselves, prepare to meet all of life’s challenges – and win.

4. Teach your children how to overcome obstacles. Perhaps you have a “fifth-grade Cindi.” Two inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than her fifth- and sixth-grade classmates. Cindi wanted to try track. Not so much for winning as for the sheer joy of running. With little chance of placing in any event, she still wanted to try the sport. In her first race Cindi forgot about the competition towering over and around her, and simply ran. Wind in her face, legs working like coordinated pistons, she took the lead – only to stumble and fall hard a few feet short of the finish line.

No, Cindi didn’t win the race. Yet Cindi showed herself a real winner when she scrambled up and finished the race behind the others. Not finishing just because things got tough was unthinkable. This attitude will continue to influence Cindi when life dumps its inevitable disappointments on her and threatens to keep her from going on – and it came directly from her parent’s teachings, including Paul’s beautiful comments about finishing the course.

5. Reassure children of your love. Studies show that too often runaway children and teens join cults with mind bending practices simply because they need people who show love and acceptance for them as they are. Most of those young people will never find what they seek, although temporary comfort and shelter help. Sometimes we forget that “neglect” isn’t just lack of food or housing or clothing. Any child who isn’t constantly reassured of a parent’s love and given strong feelings of self-worth is subject to being torn away by those who offer these things.

Christian families are the perfect training ground to prevent children from becoming statistics. Although there are runaways from Christian homes as well as poor home situations, God has given the means for surviving the hard growing-up years: (a) His love and acceptance; (b) His expectancy that families will pass this love and acceptance on; © the build-in need of every person for love and acceptance.

6. Team up with your church and school. Today’s tough world demands teamwork. Home, church, and school must work together to prepare children and teens for the even tougher future. Learning to work, play, study, and pray together can demonstrate this.

Second in line for a four-girl relay, Janni poses for takeoff. Her team’s first runner is in front, passes the baton – and drops it! The other runners race by. A dropped baton is normally a signal to head to the bleachers, but Janni retrieves the baton and heads down the track. By the time she’s back to pass the baton, she’s even with the last of the opposition.

Encouraged by her example, the last two girls outdo previous performances and actually come in first.

Peer example is powerful. Chris says he can “just say no” to marijuana and booze because his best friend Greg isn’t afraid to do just that. You can and must be involved in the friendships your children form. The Bible says that friends are often closer than brothers. They also have more influence. Open your home and know those friends.

7. Make the early years count. Parents must accept that the larger percentage of their training will come in the earlier childhood years when whatever Mom and Dad say is gospel. That’s why it is so important to begin laying the foundation of God’s love, family love, self-worth, and self-esteem immediately.

Even Christian friends can be guilty of causing harm to your child/teen. Peggy undermined Susan’s self-esteem with such remarks as “I’m glad I don’t have to diet the way Susan does. Why, I’d never have all her will power!” She called attention to her doll like figure by pretending to compliment through comparison. Susan broke off with Peggy. Eventually she could pick up the pieces and see her individual worth. Why? Because of that early accepting and praising atmosphere in which she’d been raised. Your teens need your subtle guidance and your unsubtle approval and praise now more than ever. Just knowing you’ll be there for them is security.

8. Make God part of the equation. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about letting our light shine so our Father in heaven may be praised. Perhaps the best key to opening the door for your children into the world of real winners is to stress that every talent we have is “on loan” from God.

Music, homemaking, sports, friendliness, drama, caring, etc., are also responsibilities. God wants us to be our “own best” ad to develop these and hundreds of other talents. He also expects us to use them for Him.

Current magazines are filled with stories of those who have achieved in their fields frankly giving God the glory and witnessing of His strength and life and power. Any talent that makes an opening for talking about God is worthwhile.

As parents, your encouragement, support, and example help to ensure a generation of winners to carry the torch – the gospel of salvation through Jesus – to “all creation”.

Family | Religion | Christianity

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