Monday, 18 May 2015

Teaching Kids to Focus More on the Means, Not the End

Often when I speak with teachers, they tell me about how frustrated they are with students who only care about the “A” rather than learning or being interested in the actual material. One said to me recently,
“There is nothing more frustrating that giving an impacting lecture on an important historical event or scientific discovery and having someone ask, ‘How much of that will be on the final?’”
I believe that we are teaching our kids to focus more on the end result, as opposed to appreciating the process of getting there.
How, as parents, teachers and adults who work with teens do we help kids enjoy the process? Here are a few ideas:
1) Enjoy the Process With Them
Many teens simply lose sight of enjoying the process. While practicing for a sports game, remind them that the practice is just as much fun—if not more fun than playing in or winning a game. When you’re testing them on material for school, remind them about some of the interesting facts and the story behind the numbers.
2) Get the Big Picture
Many teens internalize the end result as a reflection of themselves. It can help teens to focus less on the end result by helping them take a step back to look at the big picture. Regardless of how well your teen may have accomplished something, spend time helping them understand why the process of getting there and working for something is so important.
3) Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Teens and kids take a lot of cues from our behavior. Start enjoying your own process even when the end result is not favorable. Or, if you are working on a project, share with them your ‘savoring capacity’—or ability to appreciate and enjoy and activity.
If we can help teens enjoy their process, we can also teach them other important values like appreciating what we have, being grateful, and favoring quality over quantity.