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Tuesday, 20 August 2013 20:22

Turn “Back to School” to “Back to the Future”

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Another school year just started or is soon to start, and you along with your children are looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. New school year means new beginnings, but it should also mean different beginnings, avoiding mistakes or irritating situations of years past, and establishing new habits that will serve as the platform to your child’s character formation. As the new school year commences, here are 3 Things to adopt that will have a great impact on your life and your child's character in the future.

1. Plan. I'd never think of starting a business without a clearly defined plan and a set of goals, would you? Yet most of us begin parenting with only a vague idea of where the process is headed, treating childhood almost as a permanent state instead of a transitional phase to adulthood. Much of parenting is unavoidably spontaneous: You don’t know ahead of time which night you’ll be awake with a sick child or when you’ll have to stop what you’re doing to get gum out of her hair. However, I think that the unpredictable aspects of parenthood make our planning and preparation all the more crucial. Begin by asking yourself some basic questions: What is your goal? How well-equipped are you to reach that goal? How will you measure success? Answering these questions is just as important to the success of your parenting as it is to the success of your business.

Start this year by creating a plan of what kind of parent you want to be, and identifying what you are willing to sacrifice to become that parent. This plan should include time spent at work inside or outside of the home, time spent in children-related activities such as driving them to and from school, sports and homework, downtime with your children, "Me" time for yourself, and "Us" time for you and your spouse. Make the plan realistic, attainable and measurable, and begin the year by following it faithfully. Sure there will be diversions, but the more focused you are, the more focused your family is likely to be.

2. Accountability. Real leaders understand that the authority to make decisions comes with the responsibility for the outcome when those decisions are wrong. As the leader of your family, begin this year by allowing your children to have a voice in making decisions that impact them. Begin with simple, non-threatening decisions, hear them out, give them a predetermined menu of options to chose from, and guide them through the decision making process without making it for them. Here is the catch. The privilege of making choices comes with the responsibility and accountability for the outcome. They have to own that as much as you do.

When a leader actively accepts this responsibility, it fosters confidence among the ranks. Employees know that if something goes wrong when they are following their leader’s direction, they will not be thrown under the bus. If you can foster a similar confidence in your child, you will be amazed what it will do for your relationship. The formula is simple. If you find yourself at fault, admit it. Apologize. Tell the child, “I was wrong,” no matter how hard those words are to utter. Not only are you admitting that you’re not infallible, but also human just like he or she is. By example, you are teaching your child that it is honorable to admit mistakes. This is the essence of accountability; actions have consequences, but it is acceptable to make a mistake as long as you proactively take responsibility for it. If your son owns his mistakes, he will undoubtedly learn valuable lessons from them.

3. Avoid the "Herd Mentality." Children and adults have a love/hate relationship with individuality. On one hand, we all want to feel special. On the other, we all need to feel accepted. None of us wants our children to be members of a herd, moving thoughtlessly with every trend or whim. So how do we teach them to lead? First we teach them that we value them as individuals and that as individuals, their power is rooted in their ability to make their own decisions. Every child needs to learn that while there are rules that must be observed, they should also question the actions of the crowd before joining in. As the old adage goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” The way the crowd is going may be best for you, but it may not. The idea is not to become mired in indecision, but rather to apply a measure of thought to the process, to consider the sources if you will, before following blindly. To achieve this goal with our children, we must teach them that they do not need to do anything unwise to be special or conform thoughtlessly to earn acceptance.

It is never too early or too late to teach planning, accountability and leadership to our children, and the new school year seems like a great starting point. So lead them by your example and watch them climb to new heights.

This is my opinion. It worked for me and it can work for you. You just have to try it!

Chris Efessiou

About Chris Efessiou:  Chris Efessiou is an entrepreneur, business leader, educator, mentor, international speaker, radio show host, and best-selling author of CDO Chief Daddy Officer: The Business of Fatherhood  based on his own experience from raising his daughter as a single dad by applying his business knowledge to the business of parenting.  Listen to Chris’s weekly Radio Show Straight Up With Chris:  Real Talk on Business and Parenthood on Voice America Radio.  You may connect with Chris on Facebook, follow on Twitter and visit

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