Back-to-School is here, there, and everywhere. Entire sections of stores previously designated for water toys and patio furniture have been cleared to make way for crayons, binders, pencils, lunch boxes, and backpacks. Commercials on television advertise how new outfits, trendy haircuts, and sparkly sneakers can ensure your child will be a school success.
Will having the right pair of high tops really instill confidence in your child as the advertiser claims? Is the right haircut necessary for fitting in with the popular lunch crowd? Will a certain combination of shirts, sweaters, and jeans suddenly transform a child into an academic all-star? The message these commercials are sending to our kids is that the right look is vital to school success and peer acceptance. Without it, it’s going to be tough.
As parents, we know how silly this is. The right backpack or shoes won’t have any effect on our child’s ability to be a school success. The things that will truly ensure success can’t be bought, but can be taught. Paul Tough, in his book, How Children Succeed, lists 7 qualities that will help your child achieve satisfaction in school and throughout life.. These 7 qualities of successful children are:
- Grit – having courage and determination
- Self-control – essential for navigating a classroom environment for optimal learning
- Zest – enthusiasm for challenges
- Social Intelligence – the ability to form relationships with others
- Gratitude – a sense of appreciation
- Optimism – having hope for the future
- Curiosity – developing a sense of wonder and a desire to learn new things
These qualities can be developed in children from early ages, through thoughtful conversations with parents, friends, and families. Conversations about how to approach a tough homework assignment, or what to do when a friend decides to play with someone else at recess, help children learn ways to deal with challenges. Discussions with kids about the ways adults handle tough situations in their own lives can teach children that life will present challenges, but that we can develop skills to deal with ups and downs.