FRIDAY, FEB. 3: Despite discussions about the misbehaviour of young people, a large number of them are excelling in academics, sports, the arts, and the like.

Most would agree that these successes didn’t just happen by chance.  They were achieved through motivation, self-determination, and support. Young people are impressionable. They eagerly watch what others are doing and are inspired to imitate that which they see — whether it is positive or negative. How do we encourage children to engage in positive activities in which they will enjoy and excel?

Yet parents, quite excited that their child will perform before an audience, sit propped up, front and centre and proud as peacocks, feeling a great sense of pride watching their offspring performing in the activity selected by the parent. 

Sometimes children may not have a wide variety of interests if their exposure to activities is limited. So it is up to the parents to make such exposure available.

Parents should get family members who excel in something to spend time with the child to give them an understanding of what they do and what it takes to excel in it. 

Success stories

Make arrangements for your child to spend time with a successful adult on a day when school is out on vacation. 

Find television programmes and movies that highlight young people who are successful,
especially of those who have had to overcome challenges. Meet with your child’s teacher to determine the strengths and interests the child exhibits in school.

Exposure to a variety of positive activities will expand the minds of young people and give them a wealth of choices to harness their interests.  Parents must be the guiding resource to a child’s success and without it, we can only expect the bare minimum from our youth.  Young people who don’t feel a sense of accomplishment or success will ultimately create their own destiny — which may be detrimental to themselves and to the community at large.

Role models

Parents must be role models for their children.

Parents are not perfect and certainly not successful in everything and so it requires work.

 Parents need to spend quality time with their children and constantly communicate to help them set and achieve goals. Parents should be actively involved in their child’s schoolwork and other activities; they should encourage and give pointers on areas that may need improvement. 

Most parents I talk to readily admit that they are not involved in their child’s academic learning and some don’t feel competent enough to help the child. That’s no excuse. Parents must be resourceful.


If children don’t experience lifelong success with the guidance they require, the future for us all will be bleak. Let’s all strive to help our youth etch in their hearts the words of Abraham Lincoln: “I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”

Shawnette Somner is the host of Generations, which airs on DeFontes’ Broadcasting Company’s 1450AM Gold, 7.30-9pm every Monday. E-mail Call in live during the show on 295-1450. The topic on Monday, February 6:  Helping our young people to be successful.