Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal said, "Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."
One of the best lessons we can teach our children is that they are what they think and do. If their thoughts are self-deprecating, they will find it hard to rise above them. Someone makes a clumsy mistake and the more they are teased and think about it, the clumsier they actually become.
Fortunately, the opposite is true. The better our children do, the better their self-esteem becomes, and they actually rise to the praise. However, it can't stop there. We need to teach them that it is not one single act that will make them excellent, but that they must develop the habit of doing their very best to maintain excellence.
This doesn't mean our kids have to become little A-type robots who neglect their childhood to be the very best of their class, team, or neighborhood. Excellence is so much more than making honor roll or getting a letter for your jacket. It is a way of life that blesses those around you. To be excellent is to be the best you can be in everything you do and that includes being kind, compassionate, generous, thoughtful and loving. It means recognizing your own blessings and having a desire to share them with others.
Here are some ways we can teach our children to be excellent:
Teach children to serve from the time they are small. Asking a neighbor if they need assistance, visiting a nursing home and telling jokes, doing kind deeds for brothers and sisters and donating their gently used toys to a pre-school or daycare all teach children to think outside of their own world. It develops in them the capacity to see the needs of others.
Fully living in the moment
Teaching children to be aware of their surroundings and living in the moment will help them to recognize opportunities are everywhere to be excellent. Teach them to observe the world around them thoughtfully.
Our kids should understand that they can prayerfully ask the lord how to be the best they can be each day. They can learn to ask what path they should take to be the people they should be. Teach them to know that no decision is too small to pray about.
Children need to be fully committed to whatever activities they become engaged in. If they want to play the piano, football or to paint, they need to give it all they have. Teach children to do all it takes to be good at what they are undertaking. This means fulfilling the practices and the teamwork.
While they need to be fully engaged in their passions, children need to know that doing so is just the beginning. They have to find balance. If a child is an athlete, he must also be a student. If she is a scientist, she must also go out and play and have down time. Through it all, family needs to be a priority. This seems like a lot, but it will help your child to not become lost in or fanatical about one thing. He or she is still and need to continue to be a child.
It is really important for our children to learn humility. It is so easy for them to begin to believe they are more important than those around them. Children may begin to develop a sense of entitlement and self-importance that will not serve them well. That's where service comes in as a handy tool. It is good to teach children to acknowledge where their gifts come from and to always be grateful and giving.
Once a child begins to be excellent at what he or she does, teach him that helping someone else develop talents is the best way to show gratitude. Children can tutor other students if they are academically gifted, work with Special Olympics if they are athletically inclined or find other ways to reach out and pull others along to excellence.
Whatever it is they do well, a child needs to use it to the benefit of those around them. Children need to learn to share their talents in order to uplift sinking spirits. Our talents are not given to us to hide under a bushel.
Children must learn to lose with grace and dignity. We can teach them to understand that winning isn't everything and that losing is just a part of their growth. Good sportsmanship is the key to better enjoyment of their gifts.
These are some ideas of how we can teach our children to be excellent and to share and mentor. Keeping them in balance and well-rounded will take effort on your part, but the investment will be worth it in the long run when you unleash the goodness they have learned on the world.