Every day I meet people in the workplace who struggle to build successful relationships with those around them. People struggle to share their views openly, collaborate, deal with conflict, step up to greater challenge and strive to succeed. Typically I observe fear, limiting beliefs and a lack of personal accountability holding people back from being the best possible version of themselves and thriving in life.
Challenging inaccurate and unhealthy beliefs and breaking down barriers created in their minds over a lifetime of experiences is typical of the work I do with people to help them shift their reality. The people I meet often share experiences that have taught them to think and feel the way that they do. For many the doubt, fear, prejudice, anger, frustration or disappointment they feel has been impacted through their relationships with their parents.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
― Margaret Mead
While of course far from having the only influence, parents play an essential role in any child’s development. Our success in raising the next generation will ultimately be reflected in the choices our children make. Developing our children’s ability to thrive can only be achieved by influencing the way they choose to think, feel and behave. What my experience as a mother and business leader have taught me is that we can best achieve that by assuming a mentoring role.
My husband Kevin and I have aimed to adopt a mentoring approach that has allowed us to build relationships with our kids through which we can nurture their self-belief, humility and passion. Ensuring our children love themselves, believe they can create whatever life they want to, hold themselves accountable and continue to learn and grow is important to us. It’s rewarding to know that all three of our kids are comfortable acknowledging their mistakes and weaknesses but are equally happy to recognise their strengths and achievements.
Seven essential ingredients of a successful mentoring that I have learned from raising Jordan, Callan and Tamsyn are:
- Build trust: our ability to influence anyone is limited to the extent to which they are willing to let us. If our children don’t trust us they are unlikely to open up and share how they feel or what they are doing. Nor are they likely to hear our advice and choose to act on it. Each of the remaining six priorities in this list will influence your ability to build trust between you and your child.
- Guide their journey: help your children to find their way; understand their desires, explore options and make the choices needed to turn their dreams into reality. It isn’t a parent’s role to tell children what they must do but to guide them to understand for themselves what is the right thing to do. The right thing to do to be a valued member of their community but also the right thing to do so they can be happy, safe and fulfilled.
- Coach through mistakes: kids need to know that when they muck up they can come to you. They need to know you will understand and guide them to fix the mess they at times find themselves in. Rather than delivering a barrage of outrage at our kids, it entirely more effective to help them to see the choices that led them into trouble. Support your children to assess their options and navigate their way through difficult circumstances.
- Provide tough love: set clear expectations and hold your children firmly accountable for their behaviour while at the same time treating them with respect and decency. It’s essential that you consistently deliver honest feedback and apply consequences but so too is acting with kindness. At times children do need to experience negative consequences but the approach taken should never undermine their sense of self worth and trust in you.
- Share your wisdom: talk to your kids about what life has taught you. Share your experiences in dealing with things they are going through. Allow them to know the mistakes you have made and what you have learned from them. Demonstrate that it’s OK not to be perfect and the best any of us can do is take responsibility for our actions and keep learning.
- Lead by example: showcasing successful behaviour is among the most important ways you can teach your children how to thrive. Demonstrate for your children what is not only desirable but also acceptable. Teach your kids what it takes to be successful by letting them see your passion, commitment, integrity and compassion. Look after yourself but also value other people.
- Give unconditional love and respect: there should never be any doubt in your children’s minds that you love and respect them. They need to know that no matter what they think, feel or do you will never give up on them. No matter how troubled the times they are going through kids need to know they can depend on the love you will give and respectful approach you will take; even when dishing out consequences they may not like.