Unlocking Your Child's Potential

Unlocking Your Child's Potential

We will draw from age old practices that have turned out imaginative inventors, brilliant business leaders and inspirational instructors. Simple strategies can open up new pathways in the brain. There are so many ways you can encourage your child to live up to his or her full potential. Here are eight simple strategies to help your child thrive.

Allow Your Child to Make Mistakes

Imagine if after the 999th try Thomas Edison aborted his experimentation to create the first light bulb.  Would we still be using torches and fire? Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times when he attempted to invent the light bulb. Allowing your child to make a mistake can build problem solving and critical thinking skills. Taking a risk in order to accomplish something can lead to personal growth even if getting to the end goal involves some failure along the way. 

Losing Is OK

"Losing makes us humble, it makes us appreciate what it means to win, and it gives us empathy for others when they lose.  Kids who never lose don’t really value victory, and turn into un-ambitious, weak and annoying adults" writes Emil Fischer in Jiu-Jitsu Times.

I will never forget the first time I tried out for a team and didn't make it.  The following year I practiced and conditioned and when I made the cut it made me feel like I had really accomplished something.

In Passenger's hit song, "Let Her Go" the lyrics focus on opposites: 

"Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow."

Getting to lose makes winning so much more rewarding. 

Michael Jordan failed to make his high school basketball team as a sophmore. Yet he kept on trying to become the basketball legend he is today.

Give Your Child Responsibility

"Ingraining responsibility in children is not a trick, but is simply teaching them life skills," emphasizes Karen Ruskin, Psy.D., author of The 9 Key Techniques for Raising Respectful Children Who Make Responsible Choices. The feeling of entitlement can follow a child into adulthood if responsibility is not part of his or her home life.

Michael Jordan was taught by his mother to sew, clean and do laundry.  Part of raising a child to his or her full potential means giving the child responsibility that leads to a sense of accomplishment.  If your child does chores in your home, then your child has a vested interest in living at home.  This sense of contribution cannot be emphasized enough. Childhood chores play a pivotal role in turning your child into a responsible adult.

Expose Your Child to:


The CEO of Nestle, Paul Bulcke speaks six languages.

In a Swedish study involving how the brain changes when someone learns a new language, specific parts of the brain actually grew when a foreign language was acquired. "Both groups were given MRI scans before and after a three-month period of intensive study. While the brain structure of the control group remained unchanged, specific parts of the brain of the language students grew. The parts that developed in size were the hippocampus, a deep-lying brain structure that is involved in learning new material and spatial navigation, and three areas in the cerebral cortex."

After taking a crash course in Mandarin so I could teach middle school beginner Chinese, I began to see a renewed ability to memorize and remember things.  I was able to memorize my Blue Cross Blue Shield number and phone numbers from childhood came back to me. 

Musical Instruments

Playing a musical instrument has been demonstrated through MRI's not only increases volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen connections between these regions. Other research shows that musical training also enhances literacy skills, verbal memory and spatial reasoning. Learning to play a musical instrument even impacts the inhibitory part of the brain.  This means that even behavior can be improved by playing an instrument.

Organized Sports

According to Stanford Children's Health, benefits of organized sports include: improved motor skills, social skills, self-confidence, sportsmanship, and healthy weight

A fun way to get your child involved with others socially while boosting physical fitness and agility makes organized sports a must-do!

Learn About Other Cultures

According to a travel abroad survey, three quarters of respondents who travelled abroad while young wrote that it benefitted their education and career. I had the experience of living abroad while a preteen.  My lens of how I saw people changed so dramatically that I found my values and focus were completely different when I returned to my school in Chicago. The Asian culture gave me a new perspective on so many things like relationships, new friends from other countries, values and goals.

Allow Your Child to Have Unstructured Playtime

Allowing children time outside without structured play results in more focus in the classroom.  This has been confirmed in several global experimental studies (Pellegrini and Holmes 2006). My own son experienced a dramatic shift in his focus while in the classroom after I fought for recess for the middle school students at his charter school.

Both Chinese and Japanese students, known to be high achievers, are offered short breaks every 50 minutes at their schools (Stevenson and Lee 1990).

Even if you allow your child to have some good old fashioned fun without too much interference you may just see a beneficial outcome.

Sources Cited

Pelligrini AD and Holmes RM. 2006. The role of recess in primary school. In D.Singer, R. Golinkoff, & K. Hirsh-Pasek (Eds.), Play=learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and socio-emotional growth. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stevenson HW and Lee SY. 1990.Contexts of achievement: a study of American, Chinese, and Japanese children. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev. 55(1-2):1-123.


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