Helping Your Child Succeed in The World

Parents hope their children will achieve success in life, but it is important for them to make sure they are not pushing their children to follow unrealistic dreams. Dr. Phil offers advice for helping your child to find their place in the world:

Encourage your child to pursue his/her own dream — not your dreams.
Ask yourself if you are getting your child involved with an activity because you really like that and so you want them to like it? Or is it a passion that your child really enjoys? You may want your child to take up a sport or hobby that you are involved in, but your child may have his/her own interest they want to explore. "There's a difference between programming our children to do what we love versus loving what our children do," Dr. Phil tells a father on the show. If you seek to pre-set an agenda and that's not what the child is like or likes to do, you can create a lot of conflict and resentment.

Explore many activities until you find one that sticks.
Let your children try many activities until they find something they're good at and enjoy doing. This will ensure that they will continue with the activity and they will be happy while participating. "What would happen if you just decided this is just a great gift that we have this young, healthy child here, and we're going to expose him to as many different things as we can?" Dr. Phil says to parents who are determined their son will become an athlete. "And something will catch, because a racehorse has to run." Dr. Phil explains that when he was growing up, he never went fishing or hunting, and didn't really know how to do either activity. But when his sons were old enough, he took them hunting, to let them have the experience and try many different things so they could see what they liked and were good at.

Don't boast about your child's talent because it could alienate him/her.
It is OK to acknowledge your child's talents, but it is also important to let your child be a normal kid. Your children need to interact with their peers on the same level so that he/she can develop friendships. If your child is always pointed out for being extremely talented, other children may be intimidated, jealous or they even might make fun of your child for being different. It is important to let your child develop and flourish on their own, at their own pace. If your child is exceptionally talented, seek out other venues with children like him/her, so your child will have someone to play off of.

Create a peer group for your child.
Get your child involved with other children his/her age, other children that like to do what he/she does so your child can create a peer group. It is important that your child have peers that are his/her friends, and this is especially important at school, where your child spends most of his/her time.

Have balance.
If your child excels at a particular sport or musical instrument, encourage that talent, but also make sure your child is being exposed to many activities and meets many different children. It is important that your child spend time playing and just being a kid, and not always alone with the hobby. Don't go to the extreme when raising your child. Don't over-schedule your child and bombard them with a million different activities, because this can have negative results.

Socialize your child.
It is important to make sure your child has the best chance to succeed in the world, and a way to do this is to make sure your child is socialized for the real world. Do they know how to make friends? Do they know how to share? Can they teach their talent to others and without showing it off? Do they know how to adapt to situations as they arise? Make sure your child is prepared for the world outside of your house and outside of their hobby. You cannot shelter your child from the real world forever. If you fear leaving your child for a period of time, ask yourself why and if that is a valid reason. Children are going to fall down, they're going to hurt themselves if their parents are around or they're not. This is a normal part of growing up. Children need to know what this is like, so they can adapt when it happens, especially if their parents are not around.

"You can't overprotect to a point that she's a little princess on a pillow, because the day comes that she's going to get out on the playground with other kids and somebody is going to hit her on the head," Dr. Phil tells parents who haven't been apart from their 2-year-old daughter for more than two hours at a time. "You're running your own agenda instead of socializing your daughter. What's going to happen if something is going to happen to you? What's going to happen if all of a sudden she has to go out and negotiate with peers and friends and teams and you won't let her do anything unless you're just there hovering right there over her?" If you are always hovering over your child, you rob them of a sense of self-mastery, a sense of competency.

Take care of your relationship with your spouse.
Are you so focused on having your child excel that you're not nourishing your relationship with your own partner? If you love your child and want to give them the best chance of succeeding in the world, it is important to take care of the relationship between his/her parents. One couple on the show does not sleep in the same bed because their daughter sleeps in bed with the wife. Dr. Phil tells them, "You two, as a couple, need alone time, intimate time." This is to insure that their relationship stays strong and therefore the family relationship stays strong.

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