Pilar Jericó

Writer and educator

"Parents have to set boundaries, even though doing so might be difficult and painful".

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All children have opportunities, as childhood is a world of many opportunities. Yet, why do some children grow up to be great or good people, while others fall by the wayside? What defines one path or another is precisely education. Children can receive education at home, at school or under any other kind of context. The opportunities available to our children depend on us as adults, parents and educators.

How can we awaken greatness in our children? And when I speak of greatness, I don't mean the greatness of professional successes, I mean greatness of spirit. Greatness allows us to live a meaningful life, as it gives us the courage to be the protagonists of our own lives. However, we first have to have achieved greatness ourselves before we can help our children to become great. Our children are our teachers as they reflect the difficulties we sometimes have in life. How can we ask our children to be able to manage conflict if we cannot do so ourselves? How can we expect our children to be kind to others if we don't know how to treat ourselves kindly? The first step on this educational journey is to be able to become great ourselves. We must educate ourselves as well, as only then will we be able to awaken the strength and courage needed to inspire our children.

Self-esteem is a lifelong project. In fact, I believe we're always working on our self-esteem as we try to navigate the various pitfalls that test our self-belief. The best way to nurture self-esteem is to make a connection with your vulnerability. To learn to love yourself as you are, and then to teach your children to do the same. That's why, to some extent it's a good idea to talk about your mistakes. To normalize them. As mentioned above, self-esteem does not have to be linked to success. Self-esteem is just about loving who you are. You also need to awaken your sense of humor. When you make a mistake or are confused about something, the best thing to do is to laugh at yourself, as having a sense of humor is one of the most powerful ways to develop self-esteem. If you want your children to have better self-esteem, you have to start with your own vulnerabilities and learn to accept who you are. If you want to improve your self-esteem, you also have to be prepared to persevere. Even learning to love yourself takes perseverance.

How to help your child become a good person

Everything that is related to listening generates good conversations. if we want to change the world we live in, we need to change the types of conversations we have. We need to have kinder conversations, both with others and ourselves. However, in order to do this, we have to learn how to listen. And this means learning how to remain silent. Listening should be something we do every day. With children, this is especially important as it means we have to actually sit down and listen to them. Actively listen to and engage with them. It's important to give children this quality time, so they feel they're the center of attention. And that's what we achieve when we remove distractions. For example, when it's dinner time, turn off the TV. Don't allow cell phones at the table, so there are no interruptions and you can focus on communicating and taking time to have a conversation.

You have to learn to say no. Human beings are social animals who live in a society. Therefore, we have to learn to live together with certain restrictions and we need to learn what these restrictions are at home. Parents have to set boundaries, even though doing so might be difficult and painful. We are doing ourselves a disservice if do not set limits. There have to be boundaries as regards values and other areas deemed to be important. A good education is based on giving people freedom and space to make their own decisions and to be creative, within certain limits.

We all have insecurities. Absolutely all of us have insecurities, but you notice them more in some people than in others depending on how hard they've worked to overcome them. First, you have to accept your insecurities, as denial is the main problem when it comes to education. A way to do this is to use your insecurities as a tool to help you learn.

Anyone who has children knows that they are born with creativity. If you give them a pen and paper (or something similar made for young children), they'll start to scribble on it. Creativity is inherent to human beings, so it is a pity that we sometimes repress it. How can parents encourage creativity? Creativity arises when two types of thought processes combine. The first is the type of focused thinking we use to solve a problem, which requires concentration and hard work. The second is diffused thinking, which is what we do when we let our minds wander and start to create new neural connections we had not thought possible. However, in order to be creative, you have to be able to think in both a focused and diffused way at the same time. Of course, children have to learn to be able to work hard and focus on what they're doing, but parents should also provide their children with the space they need to let their imaginations and creativity run free.

Pilar Jericho has a PhD in business management, having studied at universities as prestigious as Harvard and the University of California. She is also a writer and a teacher at the Carlos III University and various business schools. Ms. Jericó has written a number of books, including ‘No Miedo’ ('No Fear'), ‘Poderosamente frágiles’ ('Powerfully fragile') and ‘¿Y si realmente pudiéramos?’ ('What if we really could?').