For 2023: Four Cheap & Easy Secrets to Raising Outstanding Kids


We get this question often enough, having reared 2 outstanding kids (with grandkids!), for 2 working parents, with our disruptive career moves into public schools in 4 different cities.  The kids worked in the retail sector all during high school and got full rides to public & private universities. They each completed 2 technical degrees, on time and under budget.

So here’s my parental cheat sheet:

#1. Learn Time Management First:  This starts early, say age 3-7.  It begins with the holidays and all those various thematic, New Year monthly wall calendars.   Find one applicable for age & sex, hang in the kids’ bedroom with a grease pencil on a string attached, and make ‘em mark off each day.  No jumping ahead, just 1 month at a time.  In the beginning it will be sloppy, but the power of a new month on a new fresh, clean sheet will be apparent.  Later on you can add events occurring in the future.  At the end of the year: do not throw away the old calendars.  This is critical.  After about 4-5 years get those old calendars out from storage, and sit down with your child, and go through each old one to reflect.  You are teaching about the long-term passage of time and how one does not get it back.  Makes ‘em value time.

#2. Learn Risk Taking:  This too starts early; in the backyard or playground, and is primarily physical.  We built a large sand box with a balance beam (only ~6” off the sand) that ran 15-20’.  Climbing & elevated movements convey an element of risk.  I learned to water ski & surf by age 10; kids out west should be snow skiing or boarding by that age.  Play board games with an element of risk at home; teach “risk vs. reward” at every opportunity, and how to evaluate each.  No pampering of minor boo-boos; have crying kids look upward at some imaginary thing, it disrupts the shock patterns of a scrape or fall, an old neurolinguistic (NLP) trick.  As they get older they’ll appreciate the many stupid ideas teenagers kill themselves doing.  Plus, nobody got anywhere in this world without taking risks.

#3. Learn Memory Techniques and Logic (vs. e_distraction):  Memory techniques are everywhere in print and on the Internet. Two of my favorites are Ron White’s (not the great Texas comedian) and Gabriel Wyner’s Fluent Forever, ostensibly a manual for learning a foreign language, but in reality a great memory method.  Both are on the web.  If you allow the open sewer of our electronic culture to instruct your kids, don’t be surprised with how ditzy they turn out.  As for logic, the el cheapo Logic Puzzles monthly pulp magazines are an absolute lead-pipe cinch for this endeavor.  My daughter got a full ride at TCU in chemistry from doing these, nearly 1 every day, during high school.  The brain power curve that emerged was incredible.

#4. Do Team Sports With A Coach:  All successful people have to be able to “take coaching.”  Show me someone successful who hasn’t been here, and I’ll show you a sociopath with deluded followers.  They don’t have to be star athletes, only learn #a.  to ‘take coaching’ at as early an age as possible, from someone who isn’t a parent, and #b. understand the value of teamwork.   Some may have natural talents; most do not, but the 2 experiential qualities above make up for everything else. It does wonders later in the real world.

Remember, you’re the parent here, not their pal….make ‘em do it in as friendly & insightful manner as possible.  Compliment often, and do your job; you birthed ‘em into this world, didn’t you?

Sellers is a Southpark Republican living in incorporated Oro Valley; his background is federal technology commercialization

About Opinion By Bill Sellers 88 Articles
Sellers is a South Park Republican who lives in incorporated Oro Valley. His background is federal tech-transfer commercialization. Contact him at Sellers is also a grad of Clemson's Architecture School and the University of NC School of Business. He was a founding member of the Albuquerque Friday Morning Breakfast Group which elected numerous conservatives. He has lived in the SouthWest & PacNorthWest more than 40 yrs.