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Exercising Values

Happy, Healthy, Kind, & Considerate Kids

Three Keys to your Child's Success in School, Sports, and Life

character children diet education family life fitness goals inspiration parenting sports support values Mar 10, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell once said, "It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

As a parent you can start accumulating advantages for your child today and it might surprise you to know that their first advantage is you. I know that because you have been motivated to seek out and read an article about promoting your child's success and ensuring that they reach their potential. The first key for your child's success, and for that matter anyone's success, is having a loving support system. It is a huge advantage for your child that you are willing to seek out resources and build relationships that will develop their innate abilities. Olympic track star, Wilma Rudolph, was the twentieth of twenty-three children but her hard-working mother did not let this prematurely born, illness-ridden child lose her potential to poverty,adversity,discrimination or illness. She made the time and found the resources to help her overcome all kinds of obstacles while running a family that inspired all of her children to encourage and help each other.

So don't look at your limiters whether they are time,talent, money or know-how.  Instead realize that your love for and interest in your own child is their number one key to success. You will thoughtfully determine what activities to expose them to, you will decide how and where they will be educated, and you will teach them important lessons explicitly and by the example you set. At one time parents were anxious to get their child into school earlier to give them an advantage of more learning at an early age. Now some parents are looking at research about the advantages of entering school later in order to be more mature and atract more attention from coaches and teachers. Some parents are choosing home education in an effort to  give their chid more individual attention, avoid negative social influences, and to provide more varied educational opportunities. Parents every where are weighing their options. That very thoughtful contemplation on their behalf is any child's number one advantage.

Here is a further explanation of the three keys to your child's success in school,sports, and in life:

1. Loving and concerned parents that don't just follow the crowd but make thoughtful, well-researched and value-based decisions on their child's behalf. This begins in utero with what a mother eats and how both parents prepare for this child'e entry into the world. Most mothers try to eat better while pregnant than at any other time in their lives.

I remember seeing a motorcycle speed by when I was pregnant and thinking I don't want to do that anymore because protecting my own safety is now about protecting my soon to arrive child's safety. I had the thought that this child will need me to be there for them so taking fewer risks and taking care of myself was more important than adventure. Now, when this baby grew up I found myself riding on the back of a motorcycle with her then fiancee who had just learned to drive one. There is a season for everything: protection and letting go. It is having someone who can discern what is most needed at this time that is a key to a child's success.

Whatever personal freedoms or goals you feel like you need to give up for your child at a certain time in their lives may come back to you later in a more meaningful way. Prioritizing your child's welfare will ultimately give you great satisfaction. Just strike the balance that also lets you thrive. Like the old illustration about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child in an airplane; take care of yourself so you can take care of your little ones. Set aside selfish ambitions and know that your choices are in your family's best interest. Trust that there will be a time for everything you really want to do and choose what is most important now.

2. The second key is designing a life that supports what you have decided is most important for your child. If you think that time with you is important then you have to design your life to create that time. If you only respond to what happens each day with no end goal in mind you will be pulled off course and it will be the urgent and not the important that gets your attention.

In today's world that includes handling media so it stays an advantage and not a distraction. A walk with your child or spouse might be more important than checking facebook,twitter, or email but curiosity can easily lure us to take a quick look. Then soon enough, more time has passed than we realize. Having some idea of what you want to do in a day and having at least a rough idea of when that will happen will protect your good intentions.

Besides this daily time management, you also want to have a big picture of the life you are trying to create. Are you trying to earn enough money to put them in a private school that you think will offer them advantages or are you trying to live on one income so your child can spend more time with you. Time versus money and time versus some other life goal  are always crucial decisions on what your parenting will look like. People reach different conclusions. Just be sure your decision is the one you think will ultimately be best for your family. Design your life. Don't just let it happen or worse don't let it spin out of control.

3. Include the Exercising Values triad of fitness,character training, and fun family time together to lay the foundation for your child's success in school,sports, and life. Commiting to fifteen minutes of daily exercise with your children while incorporating character lessons on topics like diligence,truthfulness, and persistance is an innovative way to be sure that each and every day what is most important to your child's development is being addressed. Then a longer weekend activity gives you more time together.

The simple act of scheduling daily time with your children to do Exercising Values will send your children the message that they are important to you. They will have attention from you that they can count on. Meanwhile you are also taking care of yourself and getting the exercise you need to stay lean, healthy, and abounding in energy. While you are getting a workout your kids are getting to play with you,learn from you and receive lots of love and affirmation. These early sport skills will help them develop the strength,speed and coordination that will propel them to athletic success. These early character lessons will help them develop into children who are easy to be around, side stepping a host of behavior problems.

The power of this third key is in teaching character and physical fitness together. Children are more receptive to what you have to teach them when they are relaxed,feeling loved and having fun. They learn best when they can actively participate.  Later  you can reinforce the character lesson by providing an Exercising Values recording of a passage from classic children's literature that illustrates the character quality. Children can learn about hospitality from Little Women or loyalty from Black Beauty and the stories mean more when they are read as part of a system designed to teach children how to make good decisions and how to be people of integrity.

So recognize how important you and your choices are to your child's success and happiness. Think through the life you want to offer them. Include physical fitness, character training, and fun family times together as part of that lifestyle. If Wilma Rudolph's mom could find the time and resource to propel her to the world stage as an Olympic champion while raising twenty-one other children to be a cohesive supportive family; then you can find the time and resources to build excellence into your children. Create a family life that will leave you happy when that era ends and  you climb back onto the motorcycle or otherwise move on to new adventures. Do it with the satisfaction of a job well done.

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About the Author

Pamela Davenport

MSW, CPT, PES, CES, FNS, YES, SFS ACE

For decades I have helped countless parents and their children overcome significant obstacles. My unique accomplishments in the fields of child development, health, and fitness have given me an unparalleled perspective and expertise that I would love to share with you.

  • Award-Winning Author and Parenting Coach
  • Mother of six and grandmother of five
  • Studied Juvenile Justice at Stanford University
  • Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Experienced family counselor
  • Support group leader for struggling parents
  • Taught health at the university level
  • Program manager for the personal training programs at two colleges
  • Personal Trainer helping people lose 5lb-100lb+
  • Two-time Ironman Triathlete and competing member of team USA
  •  UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award 2017