“A recent study by Intel Canada highlights that, if given the chance, the top two pieces of advice post-secondary students would give their younger selves are to learn how to better manage their time and improve self-discipline.” (For more on the Today’s Parent article read here)
One issue I have noticed in our culture is a lack of self-value and purpose. Many kids do not see their own value or worth. Or even worse, they find their worth and value in places that they should not (relationships, friends, social media followers, etc.). But the good news is- I think this problem can be easily solved. A person’s identity or purpose is not derived from a boyfriend, girlfriend or even a group of friends, but from who they are as a person. This process of a teen seeing their value and purpose is something that begins when they are young. For example-
When I was a kid, my parents had me involved in many extracurricular activities. I went to ballet class, took piano and voice, learned to play tennis and even played golf for a period of time. Which might seem overly busy, but looking back, it was a really beneficial experience for me. I began to figure out where I could excel and where there was little hope:) For example- I am a great musician, but the two years playing on a soccer team were not my best. I enjoy tennis, but golf was not my thing. I started to figure out who I was as an individual and I began to find purpose in my life even at that young of an age.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating every parent put their child in as many after-school activities as they can find. Kids can become so overloaded with extracurriculars they become burned out and no longer have interest. A parent and child need to communicate to determine which extracurriculars are going to best suit the child’s abilities and interests, but there need to be extracurriculars nonetheless.
As I grew older, I began to weed out the extracurriculars which I knew I would not be pursing long term. For example, two years of soccer was enough for me to know that I would not be paying for my college education through a soccer scholarship. However, as I eliminated the activities I realized were not my best, I began to see which activities suited the gifts God’s given me. Music was one of them.
I began playing the piano when I was about 5 or 6. As most children, I did not enjoy practicing, but my parents made me anyway (Praise the Lord for that). I began to learn from a very early age how important time-managment was. If I did not practice my scales or songs 30 mins everyday, I would not be ready for my lesson the following Monday. As simple as this illustration is, it set the tone for my time-management skills as I got older.
Last month I blogged about Kids & Social media (Read it here) and I mentioned the statistic that said kids spend an average of 7.5 hours a day consuming media. Which is ridiculous and it shows me kids are not spending their time wisely. But that also means they have no time management skills. They have no idea how to set boundaries for themselves when it comes to “play time” and so each day they wind up wasting half the day consuming media. When we waste our days, it is very difficult to then practice what skills we have and it becomes more and more difficult to find purpose. When it becomes difficult to find purpose in our lives, it is easier to become sad and even depressed.
Now what does time management have to do with realizing our purpose and self-worth? Well, my thought process is this: extracurricular activities teach time management and the ability to become a self-starter. Time management helps us to use our time wisely and being a self-starter gives us drive and passion to develop our skills (Ballet, piano, soccer, etc.). Once we develop our skills or cultivate exceptional quality traits we possess (Like being a leader, having patience, etc.), we start building who we are as a person. Therefore, we begin to realize what makes us special and that we do in fact have purpose in life.We realize that our purpose is not dependent upon another person, group of friends, or dating relationship. It is dependent upon us and who we are as individuals.
I think it is also very important to point out that although extracurricular activities are extremely important, academics are just as crucial. Growing up, my dad never told me to do my best. Instead he would say, “I’m expecting a 100 on your test.” Not because he was being hard on me, but because he knew I was capable of it. I think parents and kids alike have become lax on grades. Kids are okay with just sliding by with a C and parents do not mind either. Which is bazaar to me, because if I do not make an A on an assignment, quiz, test, etc. There’s a good chance I may cry (You think I’m kidding).
When there is not an emphasis on how important excellence is, there then becomes an acceptance for average or under-average. Why work harder when I could slack off? Why study for the ACT when I could simply slide by to get into so and so college? Why work to receive an A in class when all I need to play sports is a C? Why practice extra on (insert sport here) when I know all my teammates are not practicing extra either?
The point is, I do not think we are cultivating the potential in our youth because we have become okay with average. There is no emphasis on excellence. It is only “what can I get by with?”.
From a Christian standpoint, God does not waste talent. If you are still breathing, He still has work for you to do. Otherwise, He would have called you home. If we are not helping our youth realize their potential, how are they supposed to live out their purpose? Your child could grow up to become the doctor that cures cancer. A teacher that instructs the next Albert Einstein. Maybe even our president 30 years from now. God creates what is needed. If He created you, He needs you for something.
The bottom line is that an emphasis on excellence in extracurriculars and academics will help your children find their purpose in life and understand their value. When they master time-management, they are able to cultivate their talents and abilities. Once they see that their value and worth is found within themselves, they will not need to obsess over dating or drama. When they know their potential, they will not want to simply slide by. They will crave excellence and cultivate a desire to fulfill their purpose in life.
© Bailey Kennon and Ill Wait Blog, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bailey Kennon and Ill Wait Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.