the greatest lessons we can teach our children

My son drives me nuts…

But he’s one of the reasons I do what I do.

For the past 6 years I have been working hard to learn everything I can about success and finance, which eventually led me to studying things such as marketing, time management and copywriting.

Each book I read, each audio program I get through and each DVD training program has its own file on my computer.

Part of it’s for me, because I believe in striving to be the best as only my best will help me achieve the goals I have set for myself.

The other part is for my son, because one day I know I’ll be gone.

Teaching is in my blood and I have gathered a collection of material that will serve him just as well 20 years from now as it has me because most of it deals with fundamental concepts.

Little does he know what awaits him.

When he enters elementary school his real education will begin with a good dose of Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Brendon Burchard, Joe Polish and many others.

Sure, the world will have changed a great deal, but what drives us will not.

Technology will have taken the next step forward, social media will undoubtedly have evolved and we will understand more about life and the universe than anyone could have ever imagined. However, we will still be driven by the same desires, we’ve had for thousands of years.

The other day my client and I got to talking about education and I explained how I disagreed with pretty much the entire system in the manner it’s taught today.

We went back and forth discussing different topics related to education for about 20 minutes and then I decided to ask them a question that popped into my head: “What is the most valuable thing we can teach our children?”

It is a question that every parent should be asking themselves. Sadly, too many parents leave the teaching up to the schools.

Being an educator myself, I fully support a child going to school, but I also know that what children learn at school is not as important as what they learn from their family.

The following list is what came out of the conversation I had with my client.

The greatest things we can teach our children:

  • To always ask why. (Don’t merely accept what others tell you. If you understand the why everything else becomes clear)
  • The ability to judge right from wrong and to judge things for yourself.
  • To stand up for yourself, to have courage to fight for what you believe in.
  • To listen to others.
  • To love themselves & others.
  • To trust those who earn your trust.
  • To lend a helping hand, but to help yourself first. (“Enlightened self-interest” as Jim Rohn called it)
  • To laugh.
  • To understand the important of learning. (4 key things to learn young – karate, swimming as they might save your life, language & abacus)
  • The importance of reading.
  • A TV is not a replacement for mommy or daddy, but it is a great learning tool.
  • To think for themselves.

I have heard Brian Tracy say that loving your child is the single greatest thing you can do for your children especially the first five years of their life.

So I think love comes first. Laughter a close second in my book.

Life inevitably has its ups and downs.

Laughter is what keeps you going even when times are tough.

I can’t count how many times I’ve been down on my luck for whatever reason, but I could always find something to laugh about.

Heck, even in the emergency center after the tsunami, in the middle of all that sadness there were times to laugh.

Laughter is invigorating. It’s contagious. And most important, it’s good for us.

But love and laughter are sort of givens in my book. Teaching your child to think for themselves, on the other hand, that’s no mean feat.

Recently I have come up with a way to (hopefully) teach my son to do just that.

When something happens, before I explain what someone did, or why they did it, I ask him to think about why it happened.

A while back my son did something that he shouldn’t have. I responded by getting angry.

As I had shouted at him, he cried, but I immediately lowered my voice and told him to stop crying. Then I asked him a question – “Why am I angry?”

He said it was because he did something bad.

I agreed but then I asked him what he did…and, more importantly, why it was bad?

The first part was easy enough, but what impressed me was he was able to explain why it was bad.

Getting angry is easy, that comes as second nature to us all but when it comes to children we shouldn’t end it there. They often times don’t know any better, that’s where we come in.

It’s a parent’s job to help them understand life; not simply provide for them or, as is common today, to be their best friend.

The great thing about having children is they teach you as much about life as you do to them.

I’m all for teaching children math, science, foreign languages, art and other school subjects, but we should never forget what’s really important in life and remember that the fundamentals of life need to be taught as well.

Adrian Shepherd


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