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By Rennu Dhillon DSc.

How to Raise Great Kids

Self-confident, active, friendly, well-adjusted, and happy! Isn’t this the description of a well-rounded human being? The million-dollar question, however, is how we can help our children achieve the perfect balance of success, camaraderie, and personal satisfaction. In short, how can we raise great kids?

Being a parent is a challenging and exciting opportunity. The key to good parenting is in understanding that parents are really educators. At home, parents teach values and good habits, complementing the lessons learned at school. We don’t need magic tricks, college educations or even a library full of books by parenting “experts” to be good parents. Instead, proper parenting can be accomplished with pragmatism, common sense, sensitivity, and a few acquired skills. However, there are no guarantees that our children will be exactly who we want them to be or do what we tell them all the time. Remember that there are no foolproof formulas for raising children.

Photo by Melissa Coda of Impulse Photography

In today’s fast paced world, we must raise well-rounded children who are fully equipped with the necessary life skills to handle obstacles and challenges. If we want our children to change the world or make differences in the lives of others, we need to raise them to be leaders with visions. South Asian families have traditionally placed too much emphasis on education and grades, failing to realize that creativity, imagination and communication are as important (if not more so) for survival in today’s world. All the education in the world won't guarantee success if don’t know how to balance work and play or communicate well with others. While childhood is a time for book learning, it is also the time to develop socially and to think independently. The problem with the South Asian focus on academics is that our children run the risk of neglecting the importance of social skills, effective communication and critical thinking.

Educators and researchers have found that the early childhood is the crucial time for developing a balance of these skills. In fact, a study from the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that 3-to 5-year-old children who develop strong social and emotional skills are more successful in later schooling than those with weaker skills. The biggest mistake South Asian parents make is focusing on reading and math alone, neglecting to encourage their children’s communication and social skills, etiquette, or artistic abilities, all of which help develop people skills.

Here are some steps that you can take to raise healthy and successful children, recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists:

- Place your child in a pre-school program that makes learning fun, focuses on hands-on activities, and helps children develop strong speech skills. Look for pre-schools that will help your child develop self-confidence and a sense of humor; teaching children to laugh and be funny is as important as teaching them to read.

- Ensure that you enroll your child in programs providing a complete education, helping students develop socially, emotionally, and academically. In addition to academics, children need to learn about their civic duties. They should not simply react to situations or crises, but must learn to be pro-active. When working with others, children must be empathetic, identify with others and learn how to help those in need. We need to teach kids when and how to “get involved.”

- Foster goal-oriented decision-making. Children function well and learn effectively when they are encouraged to have clear, positive goals and values. We must also teach them how to manage their emotions and make responsible decisions. Encouraging them to set their own goals for learning will also help them mature.

Finally, allow your children to get involved with their community. Students behave responsibly and respectfully when given opportunities for community service. Community service complements academic curricular, teaching children about their own responsibilities to society.

Remembering these suggestions as you guide your children will not only help them succeed academically but will also help them develop lifelong patterns of integrity and values. Set your boundaries as a parent, while reaffirming your children’s self esteem. You will be able to handle crises effectively and fairly, providing a positive example for your own great kids.

Have a question for our Parenting Expert? Enter it here and your question might be answered in the next issue!

Rennu Dhillon DSc. is the founder of Genius Kids, an Interactive Multimedia Learning Center in Fremont, CA.

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