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Character Building,
Studying isn't everything

Don't forget Character Building, Academic Excellence isn't the end of the story. Being a well-rounded individual able to overcome adversity is important. Never forget that every child is unique and different. Each has the infinite potential to be whatever he or she chooses. There is a beauty and innocence inside every child.

Here's funny Ted.com video about Delayed Gratification by Joachim de Posada: Don't eat the marshmallow!

Talking to and guiding your child are essential in this day and age. There are so many competing influences, vying to occupy the precious space that is your child's mind. I really believe that we, as parents have to make sure that our children carry with them the important values and qualities that will guide their lives : Respect, Integrity, Discipline, Perseverence, Self-Control, Endurance, Focus, Determination, Self-Reliance and an Indomitable spirit. What a combination!

Add IQ plus EQ, what an asset to society they are going to be...

Kids have to be taught in this fast-paced, instant gratification world how to accept constructive criticism and overcome challenges. They can't just be book smart. In fact, they have to be taught the opposite, delayed gratification. Everything needs hard work, especially what we are trying to accomplish now.

I find it useful to find someone you admire a lot who can mentor your child, be your child's hero. Better yet, I have made them my kids' god parents.

Never forget that you are your child's biggest and best shining star, they look up to us for everything. 'Mommy and Daddy can't be wrong.' But unfortunately over time, we are slowly stripped (or we even do it to ourselves) of our super power. If we are not number 1 in our child's pecking order, we are in big trouble.

Most children do the best that they can sometimes not for themselves, but for their parents, to get their approval, praise and just a pat on the back. They aren't mature enough yet until much later, when they realize that every little effort they put in slowly builds a mountain. When parents have a bad relationship with their child, it is pretty difficult to achieve this virtuous cycle, in fact, the opposite is happening.

If you haven't watched this video before, please do so now. Steve Job's 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish!' commencement speech for Stanford University in 2005 is truly inspiring.

Live with Passion

Aren't you happiest when you are doing something you love? Don't you wish this amazing gift for your child? Help them find their talents, help them find their calling. Arm them with the skills that they will need to lead a life worth living.

If you have the time (it's 76 minutes long...), you can also watch Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams or read the book. It will bring tears to your eyes.

Being Yourself

We can't control other people, not your friends, not your parents and not your siblings. We can only manage ourselves. When we act in accordance to our principles and beliefs, we will attract like-minded people. When you accept others for what they are (no matter how flawed you think they are), don't you find that you are also happier too?

Being yourself is a hard concept to teach your children. We ourselves aren't the same people to everyone around us. More precisely, we should impart that we be the best selves that we can be and be true to ourselves and our core beliefs and value system. Each person is made up of many facets, we are at any time mothers, daughters, wives, lovers, bosses, employees etc.

Persistence

Perseverance and Endurance are the key to success in life. In the face of challenges, adversity and failure, if we can still pick ourselves up and continue the fight, we have to succeed sooner or later. Raising children is like water dripping on stone. We only have the first 12 years to really mould our children. It is through the daily grind, of routines built and habits formed over years that we finally arrive at the 'finished' product. When you need encouragement, read this story, 'Persistence - The Daffodil Principle' for a little pick me up.

In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, are you the Tortoise or are you the Hare? In life and all else, the tortoise, working slowly but unwaveringly will win the race.

Find out what are the qualities needed for Success and the factors that lead to Failure.

Responsibility

The responsibility of Character building falls on parents and not just the school. Many parents make the mistake of thinking that things will take care of themselves. If you are lucky, they might. If not, you are going to have a whole lot of trouble on your hands. Yes, doing their studies and duties is part of a child's 'job', but being a good person is as important, if not more important.

Getting through life as a good person is definitely easier than getting through life as a smart person with his moral compass set wrong.

Part of being responsible is to always be mindful of their actions. When children treat others with respect and do things in a careful way, less repetition is required. Slip shod work is not acceptable.

Confidence

When your child is loved and accepted for who he is, his confidence is bolstered and his self-esteem is strong. I always tell my kids that they are dragons : brave and strong, they can do anything as long as they are not afraid.

Kindness and Compassion

Do you believe in Karma? When you do something good, good will come to you. I try to teach my kids to employ their minds wisely. So much harm can be done in this time and age. When kids are empowered, they can do great things, just because they believe they can.

Participating in charity and acts of kindness show children that they can make a difference in this world and contribute to society too. They don't have to wait till they are adults. My daughter was horrified when she visited an old folks' home, she couldn't imagine that anyone would throw their parents away!

Patience

Even when faced with an obstacle, children must be taught to persevere and keep going. Never give up! Every big accomplishment starts with the first small steps, just get started with what you want to do, and have patience with the process. There is no such thing as instant success. How do you eat an elephant? One teaspoon at a time!

The first 20 hours - How to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU

Pessimism vs Optimism

Fear stands in the way of many children learning better and faster. Overcoming this fear opens the mind. I have noticed this even in my children. My younger daughter learns so much more easily than my elder, though I think both their capabilities are about the same. When you focus on the positive and face any obstacle as a challenge to be overcome, using your mind to always think of solutions to problems, imagine what you can do. Nothing is impossible.

All difficulties and struggles we face are just opportunities for us to grow and see how strong we are. Putting our fears, doubts and limitations in our mind aside can allow our kids to accomplish a whole lot more than they thought possible.

Watch this Ted.com video by Tim Ferriss on conquering your fears and being able to learn anything.

Focus

Don't you find that for most kids, it is not a lack of intelligence, but a lack of focus that causes many children to fall short of their full potential? They are what my husband would term 'all over the place'. They have so many things happening for them, they can't focus on the important things, getting their life together. If this is happening with your kids, you would be the one responsible to get everything back in order. Cut away any extraneous activities, prioritize and get what needs to be done completed.

If a child is not focused, it soon becomes a habit and they seem to not be able to complete more and more tasks. Remember it takes just 3 weeks for an action to become a habit, good or bad. Over time, it becomes a part of them, part of their character.

Creativity

Chinese mothers have such a high propensity to effectively stamp out any creativity in their children. I have to control myself sometimes, when I find my kids doing something that I think is a 'worthless' activity, not educational and doesn't serve any purpose.

I remember stopping my elder daughter from drawing all the time, she used to draw the most amazing pictures. Now she doesn't show as much interest in that anymore though she pursues drawing and is in her art school team. I feel bad that I somehow stomped on her joy and flattened it.

My auntie used to scold her son, my cousin who could draw well enough he could earn money drawing cartoons for the local newspaper when he was a teenager. He grew up to be an architect and the most successful of her 4 children. What an irony!

Watch this video by Ze Frank and what you can accomplish with creativity on the web. I marvel that the minds of creative people must be wide as the universe. The world is their playroom. Play is creativity to them.

Discipline and Dedication

We have to work for what we want. Teaching our kids to work to the best of their abilities and having the right work ethic is invaluable. Develop strategies to show your children how to resist temptation and quick gratification. They must learn not to exchange big goals in the future for small rewards now.

The 'Present Me' has to work hard for the 'Future Me', otherwise there isn't much future for the 'Future Me'. Sad but true.

What is Happiness?

Life satisfaction and happiness are dependent on 3 factors in your life - how pleasant your life is, how engaged you are in your life through your activities and work and how meaningful you think your life is. No surprise that the latter 2 factors are more important than the first.

This Ted.com video by Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, a field of study that examines healthy states, such as happiness, strength of character and optimism, really hits the nail on the head.


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