Two Things Children Need to Succeed in Life

May 15, 2015
A woman talking to another woman and writing something in a notebook.

Okay, we all know we need more than two things to help us succeed, whether in a single part of our lives or life as a whole.
But when it comes to children who already have some of the odds stacked against them—at-risk communities, low education figures, poverty-level subsidence, abuse—what do these children need to prepare them for success regardless of their environment? And when a child does move onward and upward, what made the difference between her and those who didn’t?
Jill Roche, chief strategy director at the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, believes there are two primary factors: The child’s connection to caring adults, and the chance to make mistakes.
“Every child needs a champion.”
This phrase is increasingly familiar, and one that youth advocates know well. It’s also true. Even if there’s no longer a village to raise a child, just one supportive adult in that child’s life can make a substantial difference. The benefits are immense, ranging from attention, support, and reassurances to bolstering resilience and helping the child learn from experiences.
Mistakes help us learn responsibility.
Learning from experiences brings us to Roche’s second point: Few of us run toward making mistakes, but when they happen, the failure really comes when we don’t learn from the results. Giving a child the leeway first to make mistakes, and then providing guidance to turn the consequences into learning opportunities, will help that child develop into an adult ready for greater challenges.   
These two things will also help the child learn perseverance and thoughtfulness, the ability to connect cause and effect, and how to feed their hunger for finding their own place in the world.
Yet all this takes investment of our time, empathy, and concern about that child’s future. Read more about Roche’s findings and how the role of a caring adult can combat even the harshest neighborhood environment.
How do you help kids build resilience and learn from their mistakes?

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