I brag on Facebook. I am human and a mom. When you have 3 kids who are over achievers, I believe it is a requirement. It is in the rule book. My oldest daughter is a sophomore in high school, is ranked #1 in her class of 300, started a nonprofit and is the Drum Major in Band.
My son, is a freshman and is also ranked #1 in his class of almost 300, is a chess protegee and a computer guru. My youngest who is in 8th grade is in the top 10 of her middle school class of 150, is the president of the National Jr. Honor Society and on the Leadership Team.
And this is the tip of the iceberg with these three young adults who I call my kiddos. So, I brag sometimes. I get many compliments on my children and my child rearing skills and I must admit, it makes me feel good.
I also get questions. The number 1 questions I get is HOW. How did I create 3 young humans who continuously over achieve. I am going to tell you a secret, I am not sure.
When moms find out about my over achieving kids, they assume a few things. They assume that my kids are “smart” and that they are naturally gifted intelligently. They also assume that I am a parent that oversees all their school work with charts and timelines. I can tell you that neither of these are true.
My kids are not the “smartest” in their grade levels and I know this because they are average on standardized tests. My children are not the “Albert Einsteins” that you would assume.
They do not come from a long lineage of “smart” adults in their family tree. I am a stay at home mom and my husband is an electrician. Not the scholarly lot that one would think. And I am not a “dragon mom” who makes everyone sit at the kitchen table upon returning home from school.
I don’t have charts or timelines and never did. I will tell you what I did to mistakenly create these over achieving young humans. And what I did, might surprise you.
Here are the top 10 reasons, my kids over achieve as young adults.
#10. We have been been imperfect in all its glory.
Our family is not perfect to say the least. As people, my husband and I, are as average as you can get. We have our faults. I can barely keep a plant alive and my husband is a blue-collar worker who barely graduated high school.
We have never pretended to be more than we are. You don’t have to be perfect to have a happy life. Show your kids your imperfections. They learn you don’t have to be perfect, to be perfectly happy in your imperfections. They have learned to be happy despite their misgivings.
#9. We have instilled a place where they can fail.
It is not easy to be the worst, last place, a failure. In our home though, it was okay. You could reach for the brass ring, miss it, have it hit you in the face and leave a mark. We never put expectations for greatness on our kids.
They just had to try. This created an atmosphere where it was okay to try things and fail. We would talk about it, go have ice cream and try again. They have learned that they can try and fail without it being a big deal.
#8. We have let them lead the way.
At some point in time, all kids want to achieve success. You must be quiet and wait. It cannot be your greatness though. It must be theirs. It might be in sports, where they want to be a better hitter.
It might be in school where they want to get a good grade. You must be quiet, wait and listen. Once they desire their greatness, you need to help. You need to do whatever you need to for them to achieve their small greatness.
In small children, the successes are small. Do not under estimate small achievements. This will set them up for the next success, and the next success. They need to baby step their way to achieve their greatness.
When your child tells you that they want to be the best at frozen tag, go practice frozen tag with them. They have learned that they are in control and can master skills.
#7. We have been involved with school.
Kids watch you. They figure our what is important by what their parents put effort and time into. Spend time at the school.
Volunteer at the fund raiser. Chaperone the field trip. Go to every school function. Make it a big deal. Send the teacher an apple.
Write a thank you note to their teacher. They will see that school is important. This will be internalized, and school will become important to them. They have learned that school and education are important.
#6. We have allowed them to be independent in their work
One of the hardest things I had to do as a mom, was watch my 9-year-old create her “own world”. It was a project in 3rd grade and she wanted to do an “Animal World”. She planned it, created and made it. It was horrible. I sat and watched and said nothing as she made her project. It was awful, but it was all hers.
She got an A on that project and I assume it was because the teacher could tell she did it herself. Let them create their own work. Sit back and bite your tongue and follow their lead. If they fail, they will learn. It they succeed they will learn.
Either way it has nothing to do with you. They have learned it is all up to them.
#5. We have talked about the future.
It is not uncommon for me to say things like, make sure you have a good job, so you can hire a maid to do your dang laundry. In one breath I am kidding, but I really am not. I let them know that one of the most important factors that determines your future is the career you have.
It should make you happy and it should make you money. I want to be realistic here. I want my kids to be happy but struggling to meet the rent, does not make for easy days. This is one of the harsh realities of our society.
A good career needs to be planned for. We have conversations about this. They have learned that what they do now, effects, what they achieve later.
#4. We have always had a sense of humor.
We have always laughed. We have laughed in the face of the most horrible predicaments. Sometimes, many times, most times, if you can laugh about it, it is okay. I know there of course is a time for tears. And that is important.
But really, most things in the life of a well-cared for child, are not that horrible. When the car breaks down on the way to the water park, laugh. When the ice cream melts in the back of the car, laugh. It is not that bad.
They have learned that laughter is great medicine and to not take things too seriously. This too shall pass.
#3. We have been an advocate.
My first-born daughter had dyslexia. My son had a speech problem. My youngest daughter has always been painfully shy.
I have always been an advocate for my kids. I fought with the school to get my daughter diagnosed with dyslexia. I fought with insurance to get my son in the early speech program. I advocated for my youngest to get in early preschool.
My kids are not perfect, by no means. I have always advocated for their fullest potential though. I would accept nothing less. Believe me, it has not been easy, but I did it.
And I did it, for my children to be the best that they can be. This has evened the playing field for them with other kids and taught them to always advocate for themselves.
#2. We have always said You just have to be YOUR best.
We have a saying in our house. I am not the first one to say it, but it rings true. It is “Shoot for the Moon and if you miss, at least, you will end up in the stars.
I want my kids to shoot for the best and brightest achievements. Strive for #1, try out for the team, run for the office. If you don’t get it, at least you tried, and you will be the better for it.
Whatever it is. You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be your best. That is a huge difference. Failure is part of success and don’t take it personal.
They learned to go for it even if they might not succeed.
#1. We have always Loved.
I know it is clique, but I have to go here. Just love your kids. Hug them, kiss them, tell them they are the best. There is not day, where I did not kiss them good morning or kiss them goodnight.
No matter what, kids need to know you love them and they are important. Spend time with them and listen when they talk. Know them. Even when they get to be teenagers, hug them, kiss them, touch them.
It seeps into their soul and who they are. They can go out into the big bad world and know that they have a soft place to fall. They learn they deserve love and success. They are worth it.
As I look onto my children’s future, I worry of course. All moms do. But I feel that I have given them a good foundation of success and love.
They can “Go For It” without worrying. I did not set out to create over achieving young adults. They might not always be the best or always achieve what they set out for, but I believe that I have set a stage, where at least they will try.
And I think, that has made all the difference. But what do I know. I am just the mom.