good kids

10 Ways to Take Kids from Good to Great

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My son just started playing little league baseball for the first time. As I was watching his practice I could hear a coach on another field berating his son. “What are you doing?! Do it again! You know how to do this! You do it wrong again and I’m going to sit your butt on the bench. That’s where you’re going to end up.” The kid couldn’t have been older than age five. I stopped watching my son’s practice and started watching theirs. As the practice went on so did the constant criticism. The little boys’ shoulders slumped more and more, as did his motivation.

I don’t want to judge that father because heaven knows I have been harshly critical of my kids. However, I’ve never seen that motivate or help kids to excel. If you are wanting to help take your good kids to the next level, here are 10 ways to take them from good to great.

1. Understand the difference between challenging and criticizing

A challenge builds on confidence; criticism typically erodes confidence. Simply put, we want our children to move forward from a position of strength.

2. Keep the conversation open

When kids are familiar with an ongoing dialogue that is both encouraging and motivational, “upping the ante” or “special challenges” come with the territory.

3. Give them the freedom to fail

Sara Blakely, entrepreneur and billionaire inventor of Spanx, said that her father would ask she and her brother at the dinner table where they failed that day. His point was that failure was not the based on the outcome, but whether or not they tried in the first place. If they hadn’t failed at something it meant they hadn’t tried. Give your kids your blessing to fail and release them of the fear of it. Failure with the right mindset is a great conduit for growth.

Failure with the right mindset is a great conduit for growth. Click To Tweet

4. Develop a family ethos that values initiative, challenge, and change

“Good to Great” will fail royally if it’s a “kids only” initiative. Make sure excellence defines your family like a strand of DNA.

5. Write a weekly family game plan

This might be a good time to initiate a weekly family meeting. Develop specific family goals and encourage mutual accountability. This could cover everything from cleaner rooms to planning the family vacation to a neighborhood food drive.

6. Require an individual game plan

This builds on #4. “I’m challenging myself to finish the garage. Mom has a project for her class. What’s your plan for the week, Chris?”

7. Introduce justice into the family conversation

Fact – children who develop a social conscience also achieve more personally. This is one reason college applications now look at volunteer work. Take this a step further and encourage your kids to develop their own ideas and interventions.

8. Model self-evaluation and self-improvement

You are your kids’ role model and hero. They watch everything you do. Remember what your high school English teacher said about that story you wrote? “Don’t tell me, SHOW me…” Hey, it’s a great word for dads too.

9. Volunteer

We’ve already mentioned the power of social action to motivate. Well, incorporate the principle into the family plan. Not just individual volunteering—we’re talking the family…caring out loud…nudging one-another from good to great.

10. Avoid always using tangible rewards for achievement

But doesn’t this sound counter-intuitive? Not at all. Our end game must be, “Excellence is its own reward.” Paying for grades can cheapen achievement. Celebration is a different matter, but keep it within reason. We were created to live at capacity. When the kids get that, the idea becomes self-sustaining.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think helps you the most when confronted with obstacles?”