Interpersonal Edge: Giving kids the best shot at success

Dr. Daneen Skube

By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency

Q:I run my own successful business and have little kids. Do you give clients with children advice on how to do their own executive coaching with their children?

A: Yes, provide practical tools, emotional resiliency, and model effective work habits. Do not make the common mistake of thinking self-esteem is key to success.

During Jerry Brown’s tenure as governor of California he implemented a statewide program improving self-esteem in public schools. At the end of the study the results showed academic achievement plummeted as self-esteem rose. Turns out feeling good about ourselves is not key to success.

Success requires learning to act effectively when we feel badly. We all love feeling good but happiness is not perpetual for anyone. If you can teach children tools to act well regardless of whether they feel good you teach them tenacity, grit, and a work ethic.

There’s an effective therapeutic technique creating by a University of Washington professor Marsha Linehan called Dialetical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT teaches emotional self-regulation which means making skillful choices even when upset.

Since no one has telepathy they can only know what we do and say. If we teach our kids to use effective interpersonal skills when they’re upset then they’ll thrive.

If we didn’t receive emotional understanding as kids we may think the secret to raising kids is validating feelings. Studies on parenting outcomes show it’s more effective to validate feelings while providing logical consequences. Example: “I see you’re angry and if you hit your brother again you’ll not be going to the park with us.”

You also want to teach kids to use their words. A child that says, “I hate you,” alienates his playmate. A child that says, “If you push me I will not play with you,” is a skilled communicator.

Also involve kids in your business. Have them watch you while you pay bills, do taxes, write emails, and talk about your work. Look for opportunities to give them small jobs in your business. Successful entrepreneurs usually come from parents that are entrepreneurs.

Fan the natural talents of your children with an eye on money making future jobs. Sit down at young ages and do a lifestyle audit where you look up apartments, car costs, groceries and create budgets. Many graduating seniors have not connected a preferred lifestyle with the paycheck they’ll need.

Look for opportunities for internships in industries with bright futures. Realize trade schools for kids not academically oriented are lucrative as few young people are going into trades. The National Association of Junior achievements also offers summer camps where kids can become business owners for a week.

Stay aware of careers which are likely to be replace by artificial intelligence. Steer your kids to jobs that require human interface.

Lastly realize even if you provide optimal parenting your kids may struggle with mental health issues, learning disabilities, or addiction. The only perfect parents are people with no kids so be compassionate with yourself on choices your kids make that you cannot influence. You can only provide an enriched environment and realize your kids have the final power over what they choose.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006).