Dubai: According to a recent report by the Education Commission and United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), approximately 75 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24, in 92 countries with available data, are not on-track to acquire skills that are needed for employment.
As parents, we should do our best to ensure that we equip our children with tools that eventually lead to their success and happiness in the workplace, and in life. To do this, understanding how to instill characteristics that ignite their passion, fuel their ambition, and foster continual growth is essential.
Growing up, my parents always ensured they treated me with respect, and constantly built my confidence by reminding me that I can be whoever I want to be. Their continual encouragement and belief in me is how I treat my children and what I encourage all parents to do.
Lead by example
Children are impressionable. You are responsible for helping them realise what they want to do, who they want to be, and how they can work towards achieving it.
Throughout my childhood, we consistently discussed our family values as it enabled me to define my own values as I progressed through life. It is important for parents to be open and communicate with their children to discuss their values and allow their children to form their own opinions and conclusions. This will remind them to stay authentic to who they are and help them make decisions that align with these beliefs.
Furthermore, teach them that everything is possible if they master their minds. Understanding how to overcome the limiting barrier of negative thoughts will unlock their true potential.
My parents' reinforcement of a positive attitude that “anything is possible”, is what enabled me to focus on opportunities instead of obstacles. This eliminated my fear of failure and the feeling that I was not good enough to make it, helping my self-belief shine bright.
Be their coach
My parents coached me in the same way that I treat and coach my kids; with respect as individuals and the right for them to be who they want to be. I was challenged and asked questions to make me think of the right answer, instead of being told what to think or what the right answer might be. A good coach never enforces their beliefs onto others but instead, asks questions that make them think and enable them to find the right answers, and it is essential that parents do this for their kids.
With the rise of mainstream media, virtual gaming, and social platforms, our children are overwhelmed with technology and entertainment, making productive content for personal growth and development an afterthought.
It is important to find the right balance to ensure they are developing productive skills as the world transforms and we are not holding them back based on what was not available during our childhoods. Parents should not force them in a direction, which dissuades them from pursuing personal growth but instead inspires them to remain energised and enthused about it.
Self-awareness is key
Teaching your child how to be self-aware around things such as technology is as important as safeguarding their usage of it. Every generation is different and our children’s lives are nothing like our childhoods were.
I grew up in a very different time, whereas millennials have grown up as the world was transitioning towards more technological reliance and Generation Z is the first generation to have 24/7 access to the internet, connected devices, and social media since birth. While technology is beneficial to help them sustain themselves in the world’s current landscape, it has undeniably caused overstimulation. I never faced this issue growing up, it was up to our parents to find entertainment in different ways and of course, today, this is very different. This requires us, as parents, to ensure that we help our kids connect more with themselves.
If your child is never left alone to think, or if they are never bored, this can be dangerous. Reinforcing the importance of quiet time to reflect is an element of personal development, which they must master to enhance their self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Guided meditation before sleep, the allocation of “no device time”, and teaching them to look within themselves to connect with their feelings will help them achieve this growth.
Nurture their growth
While I was growing up, I was compared to a tree by my mother, and although this comparison confused me, I now see its similarities when thinking about the way in which I approach my children. We do not make a tree grow, instead, we provide enabling conditions that allow it to grow - and in the same way that a tree needs sunlight and water, I needed my parents nurturing conditions to thrive, as I strive to provide that for my children and encourage all parents to do this with their children.
They grow by themselves, and they become who they want to be. Our job is to help them blossom into the best versions of themselves. To do that, it is critical to believe in them, push them to believe in themselves, and emphasise that everything is possible.
I was in an environment that directed me to find my own passion. I was asked who I want to be and was emboldened to believe that I could be who I wanted and accomplish what I set my mind to. You must also allow and help your children to find their passion. Everyone is different, and children from a young age must understand this. Every aspect of life requires different personalities, different skills, and different desires. They must figure out what they are good at and where their passion lies. After that, as parents, we need to provide them with support mechanisms that help enhance the skills that will get them there.
While I’m no expert, and this is just my personal experience, it is all about leading by example and being the best role model possible because they’re always watching and learning from us.
- The writer works as the Chief Energy Officer (CEO) of Linkviva, an international events company based in Dubai. She has been living in the UAE for more than 25 years and was one of the winners of Middle East Leadership Awards for Top 50 GCC Women Leaders, in 2016.