No one is born with guaranteed success. Succeeding is something we learn to do as children, based on our experiences. The key ingredients to learning to succeed are our self-beliefs and how well learn to control and change our own behavior. Just as we learn to drive a car or solve a math problem, we learn to succeed.
Children must learn to succeed at many activities, including school, sports, socializing and handling personal and family problem. Each of these activities requires skills that are specific to the activity at hand, but there also are some "general" qualities required to succeed, especially those that have to do with coping. Perhaps the most important general quality is the belief that we "can" succeed. This essential belief is not innate. It is learned as a by-product of each little success, every one causing the belief to grow.
Beliefs, such as the belief in self, are thoughts, since thoughts are the way we represent our experiences and expectations. Children need to realize that thoughts are the forces behind feelings and actions, and that their thoughts, like their actions, can be controlled by them. Thoughts or beliefs about self are what most influence our successes and failures. Good thoughts make children feel powerful and in control. Bad thoughts make them feel powerless and afraid. When a child succeeds, good thoughts begin to grow. When a child fails, bad thoughts sprout forth instead.
Wanting to change, to improve, requires a commitment as well as a systematic effort. This takes more than just saying, "I want to succeed." It requires that children set goals for themselves and make plans for meeting those goals. Furthermore, measuring one's progress toward those goals, and providing suitable consequences, is also required. Children cannot be forced to do these things, but they can be taught, and their efforts at doing them can be aided by their parents and teachers.
Structuring the child's environment to enhance the likelihood of success increases her or his chance of gaining good outcomes and growing good thoughts. Children learn how to succeed by succeeding and learn how to fail by failing. Where possible, parents and teachers can provide the circumstances to help children succeed, but perhaps more importantly, they can teach children how to provide their own circumstances for success, and how to think the thoughts that success requires. This publication is about how to help children succeed and thereby grow the good thoughts upon which adult success depends.