Now that I’m a grandmother-in-waiting, I seem to be tuning in even more to the children around me. Considering their needs and wants, their dreams and fears, their challenges and opportunities as they once again step into the role of student – whether as a first time pre-schooler, a young adult on the college campus, or somewhere in between. It’s both exciting and challenging as they find their way around their school campus, rekindle relationships and make new ones, open their minds to learning and discover more about themselves and the world in which they live. Hopefully their parents or caregivers have taken care of their supplies and clothing, the immunizations required and the transportation needed to send them on their way toward a great year. But what about their emotional and spiritual needs? Are they equipped for the ways in which life will stretch them in these areas? The tools they need to be successful in these aspects of their lives aren’t ordered on-line or purchased at the local store. Children receive them only when the people who love them give their time and focus, their wisdom and emotional energy, their patience and love. These are priceless gifts children of every age need each day; and they are looking to us – their parents and grandparents, their teachers and church workers, their neighbors and adult friends – to help them discover how to incorporate them into their lives. While we know the value of these principles, the busyness of life often distracts us from giving them due attention, so take a moment and consider this reminder. 1. Positive self-image. Children need to hear they are special, that they are loved and valued for who they are, not just for what they accomplish. They may need help at times to see the positive attributes they possess as they discover their value in God’s eyes. 2. Courage. Children face tough challenges, in and out of the classroom. They must learn how to tackle difficulties; and they need to hear our acknowledgment when they do. 3. Confidence. When they hear, ”You can do it!” they’ll more likely begin to say, “I can do it!” 4. Resiliency. Children will fall down. We all do. However, they don’t have to stay down if they learn how to bounce back. We must teach them how to pick themselves up, assess what happened, make necessary corrections, then draw on their courage and hope from within to move forward. 5. Respect, kindness, friendliness, patience, forgiveness. These are important building blocks of relationships – friend with friend, student with teacher, parent with child. As we give them these gifts ourselves, we model what we are teaching them to offer others. 6. Self-control. Children must learn how to manage their own behavior appropriately, not an easy task in a society where we often hear the message, “You can have whatever you want and do whatever you want to do.” 7. Sense of humor. They must learn there’s a time to be serious and a time to laugh. Teach them how to manage their humor in a healthy way, as they look in the mirror and as they connect with others. 8. Graciousness to accept victory; strength to accept defeat. They will experience both. 9. Awareness of God’s constant presence with them. Our children can draw a sense of comfort and confidence in knowing God is with them and has promised to help them manage life’s challenges as they draw close to Him, seek His guidance and make choices that will honor Him. 10. Our love and encouragement, along with our prayers for them. Our children need to know that when life knocks them down, we will be there for them, just as we will when they celebrate success. They also need to know we will lift them up in prayer to the Lord each day. Our students are living in a world of both opportunities and uncertainties. Proverbs 22:6 (in the Bible) tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go.” So, let’s help them, from pre-school through college, to ‘dress for success’ – from the inside out. The opportunity is now. The responsibility is ours. The future is theirs. Nancy Williams, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Consultant, Speaker and Writer. Send questions or comments to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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