Self-help is a complex problem to tackle. Whether it is books or seminars on building one’s personality, there is a generous dose of inspiration. The challenge is to convert the inspiration to action. A further challenge is to do this consistently and persistently over a long period of time. This is a tough nut to crack for anyone, more so with children. A little bit of guided learning of core concepts in their student days goes a long way for them.
In my life-long experience as a student, teacher, mentor, and psychologist, I have distilled the core concepts of self-development into four fundamental categories. I call this approach the STEM of life. Here, I briefly present to you my thoughts.
SPACE: Create your own space and respect that of others
The secret of a happy life is to have your own space. Not only a physical space, I am talking about a domain of your own. A field of your expertise, where your excellence benefits the society. Meaning – a teacher, homemaker, artist, doctor, or any professional who is an integral part of the social structure.
Encourage your child to choose a path that she is happy to travel. Not necessarily your own unfulfilled dreams or a socially acceptable field of study and profession.
Space also refers to a fixed 3D location for studying. It is important to recognise that the brain is an organ of habits. So, it is necessary for children to assign a study-space at home. This helps the brain to align quickly and focus on the task at hand. Whether it is a routine task of working on homework or a critical task of preparing for final exams.
TIME: It is difficult to understand time, but it is managed easily
The essence of time is easy to talk about but difficult to understand. Hence children do not realise that they are running out of time every day. The sense of urgency comes only when they get closer to a test or an exam. This translates into the habit of studying at the last minute. Appropriate training on time management will help students in the long run.
The idea of wasting time is not very new to us. We all do it all the time. So, it is especially important to make children understand the significance of accountability.
A useful mantra – Focus on preparation than procrastination. Time is better managed in chunks of 90 minutes rather than micromanaging it every minute. Coach children to be punctual in all their tasks, regardless of how small the tasks are.
ENERGY: A healthy body hosts a healthy mind
Energy management is a most essential requirement in self-development. The idea is to focus all energies on the tasks that add value to your life. Just like time, energy should be conserved for the most significant activities.
Learning to focus energy on the activities that matter is a life-skill. The earlier children learn this, the better command they will gain on their lives. Most successful people know how and where to spend their time and energy.
One aspect of energy is fitness, conscious effort in keeping your body fit and healthy. This also extends to mental and emotional health.
Another aspect of energy is choosing the right entertainment. Compared to playing a video game on a digital device, playing an outdoor game with friends is more beneficial in the long run. Any isolated activity affects the development of empathy. This results in interpersonal awkwardness and lack of healthy relationships in adult life.
MOTIVATION: Inspiration that keeps you going
The idea of motivation is purely what drives an individual. It is necessary for children from an early age to explore and understand what drives them. It is also important for parents to identify the source of motivation of their children and ignite it.
A key aspect of this learning is that they are discouraged from instant gratification. They need to learn the law of actions and consequences. Perseverance plays a huge role in achieving goals in life.
I have seen many parents use material gains as source of motivation for children. This can help in the short term. But a healthy balance between material gains and a sense of meaning is needed for long-term development.
Talk to your children about what is the source of your motivation and regularly check what motivates them in their day to day scenario. At a young age, children look up to their parents for motivation. Ask yourself – are you motivating enough?
To sum up, if you can encourage your child towards a conscious awareness of SPACE, TIME, ENERGY and MOTIVATION, it’s a job well done.