When What Kids Need to Succeed was first published, I was not prepared for the question I was most often asked: How do you define success?
I was surprised for two reasons. First, people generally sounded very defensive when they asked. (I still don’t get it.) Second, I don’t think it had ever occurred to me to try to define success for another adult: I’ve always considered that a very personal decision. It’s a big part of what the book is about.
I do believe that “success” is a bit of a moving target … and that we can give our kids building blocks they’ll be able to use at many different times in their lives. One way to do this is by using the “Think-Aloud” technique that friend and literacy advocate Esther Jantzen wrote about a while back. (You can go back and read that post here.)
Why couldn’t we try that technique to help kids recognize the many ways they are successful each day? What if we help our kids to ‘Share Our Successes’ about things that we see in our homes, on the news or at the grocery store? It’s an ‘activity’ that can be added to your busy day, simply by stopping with your child to check in and share about the world around you.
It begins with ‘noticing.’ What successes do you see around you? Do you have family members who have learned to read or write their names? Tie their shoes? Ride a bike? Gotten a new job? Accomplished a new habit for several days in a row? Achieved a new level of health? What about new businesses that open, playgrounds cleaned or spider webs built?
Sound silly? Maybe. But lots of kids need help to apply an abstract concept across lots of situations before it starts to make sense to them. So, get creative when defining “success.”
Helping our kids learn to talk about ideas is a great way to connect and to learn. When focusing on successes and accomplishments around us, here are some questions you might try:
- I wonder who came up with that idea?
- How did they do that?
- What did they need to learn?
- Do you think it was easy?
- Do you think they had to solve any problems along the way?
Take your time. Listen carefully. Encourage your child’s observations… without being pushy. While you may not come up with the definitive definition of “success” you’ll show your child the value of looking for “what worked.” It’s a great building block for mastering creative visualization!