Teaching a kid to be COOL!  

As I look around the baseball diamond, I see 2 teams of 8 year olds.  There are some kids that are really into the game, some that talk too much, some that don’t talk at all, some that are obnoxious, some that are blissfully unaware.

I found myself fast forwarding to their high school years and beyond.   What do these kids look like 6 years from now?

In a perfect world, we don’t categorize people but since the dawn of school, you always have the jocks, the nerds, the “mathletes”, class clowns, the socially withdrawn, and the quiet little mice that no one ever hears from.

We, as parents, have an obvious role in helping shape their identity.   I realize I must play the hand I am dealt, taking into account my child’s natural born personality, interests and temperament.  My question for you is can we take our kids from a path of awkwardness to a path of coolness?

If we foresee our kids becoming arrogant competitive jocks, should we stifle that?  If we see our kids as future Big Bang theory nerds, are we cool with that?

I should point out that I don’t think cool equals popular either.  I remember plenty of cool kids that weren’t necessarily popular and vice versa.

Let’s face it; cool people have an easier time in life.    People like them and people want to be around them.  Cool people get promoted and tend to marry well (sometimes well out of their ‘attractiveness’ league).  I have a childhood friend that ranks himself as a fortunate 7 with a wife that is a knockout 10, and we credit that solely to the fact that he is uber cool!

So what is cool?  Cool people are confident, respectful (and respected), genuine, polite, socially aware, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent.  If I can help foster those traits and values in my children, then we are golden!

At the risk of sounding like an ego-maniacal chump, I think I’m pretty cool.  It’s been a journey.  I endured the awkward, zitty, nerdy years – complete with braces, head gear, and band camp.  But god bless the broken road to coolness, I’m almost there.

How do you teach your kids to be cool?  

If you want your kids to learn guitar, you sign them up for guitar lessons.

If you want them to be karate masters, you find them a dojo and the Karate Kid on VHS.

But for cool, where do you go?  Watching the “Fonz” on Happy Days reruns is a start, but then what?

Here are 7 things you can teach your kids that will help start them on the path to COOL.

Stop being needy.  Needy and whiny are not cool.  I will stomp out needy and whiny now.  I am teaching my children to start solving their own problems and talk in a strong assertive voice, not whiny.

How to read people.  By teaching children to watch body language, personal space, and tone of voice, they can begin to read verbal and non-verbal cues.  Part of being cool is learning how to be friends with everyone, but the trick to that is being able to read people and situations well.

Treat others as you want to be treated.  Yes, it’s a clichéd classic, but I strive to show my children that everyone is equal; from the bank manager to the homeless guy on the street, everyone deserves respect.  You don’t need to blow out someone else’s candle to make yours burn brighter!

Look people in the eye when you speak; speak clearly; and smile.   Simple and easy.  Gently remind your children to look at who they are speaking with.  Learning to be assertive is much easier with eye contact and a decent strong voice.

Develop a sense of humour.  Help your children find humour and learn what is funny.  Teach them HOW to tell jokes.  I have to constantly remind my children about ‘going to the well too often’ and playing out what WAS funny to what is no longer funny.  But folks love to be around funny people that raise the energy of a room.  Debbie Downers are not invited to parties…

Ask questions.  Cool people are genuinely interested in you and your story.  So ask questions and listen (and remember) the answers and details.

Be yourself.  That is what is cool.  Don’t be a phony.  With Catcher in the Rye being my favourite book, it’s no coincidence that I detest phony, two-faced people.  I want to help my children love who they are and always be themselves, never changing who they are in different company to please or be accepted by others.

Final thoughts on coolness…

Be smart, but not an annoying know-it-all.

Be brave and proud, but not an annoying conceited bragger.

Be confident, but not conceited and obnoxious.  Remember grandpa’s advice, “nobody likes an A-hole”

The bottom line is that “You are what you think”.   If you think you are a winner, then you are!  If you think are you cool, then check with your wife or friends.

In our bragging Facebook generation, it’s easy to pretend you are cool but cool people don’t need to toot their own horns.

Cool people are just that:  cool.  They exude cool.  They don’t need to pump their own tires or tell anyone how cool they are.  It’s an attitude (but not arrogance).

Being cool is a really fine balance between many things, like ego and confidence, but at the root, its being at peace and liking who you are and letting your light shine!

So as I watch the 2 teams shake hands at the end of the baseball game, I hope and pray that, with a little help from Dad and Mom and all the other strong influences in their lives, all these player find the courage to be themselves and love who they are.

Go forth and be COOL!!! 

How are you teaching your kids to be “cool”??   Please add your comment below — it’s easy!!!

Until next time…