Parenting style is at the top of the list. It is the most important ingredient in creating winners. There is enough research in the psychology literature to confirm this. The average parent in Jamaica is authoritarian. They are rigid, restrictive in their manner towards children, set rules which children should not question, just follow and they tend to administer harsh punishment, usually corporal punishment. Children reared under these conditions tend to be insecure, be poor in self-reliance and self-control and express their anger at the extremes either passively (for example, in depression) or externalised in risky, socially inappropriate behaviours.

On the other hand, authoritative parenting style is warm, encourages conversation and input from children. Usually, authoritative parents discipline their children in a non-punitive way (discussions, explaining and reasoning are more often used). Children managed under this parenting style develop high self-esteem and a ‘can-do’ attitude to life, and they are usually socially assertive and confident.

Now I know that when I write these kinds of articles, some readers will stop me in the supermarket or write to me and recount how they were ‘beaten to a pulp’ and called derogatory names as children and “turned out all right”. However, you may not be a mass murderer, but just examine that “turned out all right” part of the statement. Because you were raised in the authoritarian style, that doesn’t make it right.

Set goals

I get ‘goose pimples’ not only watching the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt, run and win but also listening to him speak. He is the stuff that winners are made of. He is confident, and not only is he blessed with a talent, but he is willing to put in the hard work and discipline required to apply this talent and maximise its output. And, above all this, he sets goals. His latest goal was to become a legend in the last Olympics held in London, England. He achieved it and is now seeking out new goals.

Without goals, children (and adults, too) will wander aimlessly in life. Sit and talk with your children, listen to them as well, teach them to set goals, to write them down and to start confidently working towards them. Your child may have a long-term goal – to become a lawyer, professional dancer, automechanic, and so on. Assist the child to break down large goals into smaller achievable goals (first choose appropriate subjects in secondary schools, successfully sit the exams and so on).

Short-term goals may be to structure a more effective studying schedule or getting more out of classroom instructions.

Emotional intelligence

Winners are usually emotionally intelligent people. They have a high degree of self-awareness, they are able to identify their feelings and to appropriately express them. Teach your children the major feeling groups – sad, happy, fear, anger, confused. Help them to become more aware of these feelings in themselves and to express what is making them feel this way. Also, assist children to develop empathy, that is, the ability to put themselves in someone else’s place and to understand how the other person is feeling.

Nobody said parenting was an easy job, but if you decide to take on this tough job, be patient and stick with it for the long haul. Your primary goal is to create well-adjusted, productive citizens.

By Eulalee Thompson, a freelance health editor and a therapist & counsellor in private practice.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner –