Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Help Your Kids be Successful, Part 3

(This is part 3 of How to Help Your Kids be Successful. Here are links to the previous post: Part 1 / Part 2. In order to conclude this series of posts, this one will be a little lengthy.)

The book, Different Children Different Needs (see below) was an instrumental tool in guiding us to explore how God wired our three children. Through a series of observational questions, we were able to identify where each child landed on Dr. Boyd's spectrum. It turns out that the genetic code is different in each child. I'll unfold this in birth-order.

Taylor was our firstborn. She was our trial-and-error child. Fortunately, we used another resource that really helped direct our path as first-time parents (see the link below for Baby Wise.)  As I eluded to earlier, she is our "life is a party" child. Everything to her is an experience full of inward and outward emotions. She smiles and laughs a lot. Part of the identifiable traits for her personality is expressiveness. Not only with emotions, but in other areas as well.

When she was two years old, she loved puzzles. She would just sit in the floor and work puzzles. One would think how fortunate we were to have a child that would find a spot, sit still and occupy themselves with something like puzzles. This would be accurate were it not for the fact that in her concentration, she uttered this LOUD humming noise. We never had to wonder where she was...we just traced down the buzz.

As she grew older, she moved from puzzles to drawing. It was about this time that we discovered the DCDC book. The basis for Dr. Boyd's book was that once a parent had an inkling of the gifts, abilities and personality traits their child has, they should explore those areas further. Not with the notion that their child is the next prodigy, but to allow them to develop their natural, gifted abilities. Taylor's kindergarten teacher recognized her ability to draw very well and suggested art lessons. We jumped on the idea.

The photo to the right reveals Taylor's ability. As you can see, she really has a gift. It was apparent early on that she has a flair for expressive art. Along the way to the present day she has been an award-winning dancer, won public speaking contests and has won championships with teammates in Competitive Cheer and Cross-Country. We simply discovered that she thrives in environments where she can engage with others and outwardly express who she is on the inside through art (dance, drawing, and speaking.)

Logan has the honor of being the "middle child."
That label in itself commands the need for research. Logan is the child who launched our quest to know how to lead our kids. As I mentioned in the original post, it was obvious, early on, that she would not be a carbon-copy of her sister. In fact, it was very clear that we had a strong-willed child on our hands.

It wasn't that she was blatantly defiant, but her strong will drove her to be right all of the time...even if it meant personal sacrifice on her behalf. That's the nature of a strong-willed child. They may be wrong, but if they choose to stick with their answer, they will die before they change it. And even then, in some weird way, they have the satisfaction of the "win" because they didn't waver from their position.

Once I pegged her as a strong-willed child in the DCDN book, I was able to identify activities where her personality would thrive. Dr. Boyd suggests that these children do well in environments where they are solely responsible for the outcome. Examples would be individual-based sports: golf, tennis, swimming and running. Ah-ha...I am a runner and so, I convinced her to go for a run with me.

In our quest to simply discover how to lead Logan, we discovered she has a God-given gift for running. The same drive that makes her a strong-willed child compels her to be a very disciplined athlete. So much so that she has become an outlier in the sport of competitive running.  A few of her accomplishments as a runner include several championships in Cross-Country as well as Track and Field along with quite a few records.

And then there is Avery...

As a young married couple, Angela and I would look into the future and see a house with a white picket fence, two kids and a dog. Seemed like nice, simple plan. That all changed when I began teaching a Bible Study for young couples.  There was a season of time when "something got in the water" and baby announcements became a weekly event. So not wanting to be left out, we decided to "re-up."

Little did we know that the bundle of energy we would bring home from the hospital was all energy and not much bundle. Avery is 100% boy. In other words, he loves adventure and opportunities to explore. So much so, that as parents, we always have to be on our "A"-game. We like it when we can hear him and his activity. It's when his room gets silent that we immediately go and determine what he's doing. He's just being a boy. When he was 3 years old, I found him playing in a mud puddle. While I was cleaning him up, a friend came up and I explained that Avery had fallen into the puddle.

"Fell?" he said, "He was aiming for it!"  He was probably right.

Leading Avery is very interesting. I've learned that girls are a little easier to identify and direct. Boys have the element of testosterone that complicates matters. It's hard to determine if his behaviors are from who he is as God made him or from just being a boy. To be quite honest, the jury is still out. Currently at eight years old, he displays some ability and interest in drawing (like his oldest sister) and some slight outlier potential in sports (like older sister.) We're going to have to spend some overtime hours in the behavior lab to get a better direction for him.

Let me conclude on this note: I love being a parent! The Bible teaches that children are a blessing from the Lord and I can give witness to that. It's hard work and you have to be more "on" than "off." You can't parent on auto-pilot. But watching Taylor, Logan and Avery reflect the glory and handy-work of our Creator adds to my purpose here on Earth.  And to be counted worthy to lead and help them "in the way they should go" is quite an honor. They could be someone else's children, but God considered me trust-worthy enough to give them to me...Wow!

If you're a parent, I encourage you to set up your own behavior laboratory. Discover how God has wired your kids and begin directing them in directions that will allow them to be successful in their endeavors. Help them to see how God made them and how they can use the life they have to bring honor to Him. In doing so, I believe you'll experience the true joy and fulfillment God wants you to have as a parent.

Books mentioned above: 

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