Raising a healthy and functional adult in today’s world seems harder than ever before. Between technology, social media, and eroding family values, it’s an uphill battle of epic proportions. But all is not lost. Even today, it’s possible to raise well-rounded children who go on to live happy and successful lives. It’s simply a matter of setting them up to be successful.
What is a Well-Rounded Child?
A well-rounded child is someone who is able to embrace and appreciate having alone time (i.e. they don’t need to be entertained around the clock). They’re able to delay gratification, objectively look at an issue from both sides, and appreciate the things around them.
Likewise, a well-rounded child understands that everything doesn’t revolve around them and is willing to put others first. Traits like optimism, responsibility, and moderation could be used to describe a well-rounded child.
Tips for Raising Well-Rounded Children
Raising well-rounded children requires intentionality and effort. It’s not something that just happens overnight. But with a little purpose and commitment, you can do it.
Here are a few suggestions:
Encourage Them to Try Different Things
Specialization might be a good idea for a 30-year-old professional who is trying to carve out a lucrative niche in his career, but it’s not for the 8-year-old who is just learning how to navigate the world.
Children should be encouraged to try as many different interests and activities as they can. This gives them a taste of what’s out there and allows them to make future decisions based on interests and skills.
Take sports, for example. There’s no reason to have your 10-year-old focus 100 percent of his energy on baseball. Instead, you should let him try baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, etc.
Each one of these sports teaches different skills and traits. If he decides he wants to focus on one sport in high school, so be it. But for now, he should be allowed to explore. (Likewise, his free time shouldn’t only go to sports. He should be allowed to try music, art, hobbies, etc.)
Prioritize Both Mental and Physical Health
Mental health is something that has been largely ignored in previous generations. But if you want to raise a well-balanced child in today’s world, you have to give both physical and mental health the attention it deserves.
When your child talks about feeling stressed or anxious, listen and hear them out. Ask prodding questions and try to get to the root of the matter. Sometimes children just repeat these words because they hear their friends using them. Other times, something is going on in their lives that needs to be addressed.
Teach Them About Money
Today’s young adults are woefully ill-equipped to manage money. While they graduate high school with lots of superfluous history facts and knowledge of poetry, they have no understanding of how interest rates work, what the differences are between a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, or what it looks like to create a budget.
Make it a point to teach your kids about money. There are plenty of ways to do this, but the more hands-on you can be, the better. One great option is the Greenlight debit card – a kid-friendly debit card that comes with flexible parental controls and other features that show kids how to spend, save, and invest.
Focus on Your Relationship With Them
It’s easy to get so caught up in equipping children with certain skills that you forget about the most important element in the entire equation: Your relationship with them. If you’re not being open and vulnerable around your children, you’re stunting their growth. They need to be able to come to you and engage in meaningful discussion. This helps on so many levels.
“When the child internalizes negative emotions or cannot process certain feelings, the child may not learn to process them later in life. A parent can show through example how to handle their feelings,” clinical social worker Jared Mowery explains.
While there are plenty of ways to outsource the other items on this list, this is the one aspect of raising healthy children that you can’t hand off to a teacher, program, or application. It takes time – lots and lots of time.
Putting it All Together
The key to raising well-rounded children is to avoid getting so hyper-focused on one aspect of their development that you leave them unequally yoked in other areas. They should have a baseline knowledge or skill level in all key areas, while being encouraged to excel in a couple of different areas. As a parent, you can’t control the outcome. You can, however, provide them with an environment that allows them to thrive.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.