Mother with happy child
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What do you want most for your children? Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, father of eight children, has spent plenty of time trying to figure out just that! Get his five suggestions to help your children live happy and stress-free lives without limits. 
Everyone is entitled to feel peaceful within; happiness and fulfillment are the birthright of every single human being on our planet. Twenty-five years ago, I wrote a book called What Do You Really Want for Your Children? (Morrow, 1985). At that time, I wanted to offer a way for parents to help their children achieve what moms and dads around the world want for their kids: to value themselves, to be risk-takers, to be self-reliant, to be free from stress and anxiety, to have peaceful lives, to celebrate their present moments, to experience a lifetime of wellness, to be creative, to fulfill their higher needs and to feel a sense of purpose—that is, to be no-limit people. As a parent of eight children, I consider it my greatest parenting achievement that my kids are now all no-limit adults.

When I learned my voice was going to be used in an animated Pixar film, it reminded me that we are, in fact, all still children inside, striving as adults to be all the things we want for our kids. While our entire world seems to be anxiety-ridden these days, I offer the following suggestions I wrote to parents 25 years ago, the children of whom likely have their own kids today. See if they work in your efforts with children, regardless of their ages, and even with yourself, since you too have a child inside who wants to come out and enjoy life.

First: Just relax!

Mother and twins playing
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It is not necessary to spend endless hours teaching children reading, math, foreign languages and the like, long before school begins. While it is absolutely wonderful and helpful to allow them to explore everything as young toddlers, the pressure to excel, to be ahead of the other children, all in the name of being fast and first at what they do, is putting the anxiety pressure on when they are still in diapers. Children need to develop at their own pace. They will walk when they are ready. They will not embarrass themselves in college with dirty diapers simply because they are not toilet trained sooner than other toddlers. It will come. Relax. Do no force them. Allow them to enjoy their young years. While it is nice to be highly motivated, it is also nice to be well balanced. Being able to relax and enjoy life is at least equal, if not superior, to being at the head of the class and always being nervous inside because of an inordinate need to be first.

Next: Examine your own stresses 

Stressed mother
Stop trying to be the perfect mother, father, wife, single parent, homemaker, teacher, aunt, counselor or whatever. There is no such thing as a flawless person, so why not give up that ghost in favor of being a stress-free, happy person? You will never be appreciated by everyone all the time for everything you do, and any amount of upset you have because people do not appreciate you is a waste of your present moments. Do the things you do because you choose to do them, not so you will be seen as perfect. The best role model you can be is one who is happy, stress-free and feeling good about yourself.

Next: Give children alone time

Young girl coloring alone
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Don't make them feel pressured to be with other people all the time. Children need to learn how to be alone. Many children complain constantly that they are bored, they have nothing to do and they hate leisure time. These are the sentiments of children who have grown up thinking others have a duty to keep them entertained. They have always had some kind of activity, and if they get bored, then someone will take care of things for them by taking them somewhere or turning on the TV or buying a new toy. This is a child who is growing up expecting action all the time. This translates to anxiety about having to be alone. Let them play alone; in fact, encourage it. Expose them to books, newspapers and magazines right from the very beginning. Let them have a place where they can go to be alone without feeling that they are doing something wrong. Privacy is terrifically important as a way to avoid anxiety, and the child who experiences it when very young, and learns not to be threatened by it, will have a big head start on not feeling anxious when "there is nothing to do."

Next: Explain to your children that it's not all about winning

Father and son playing baseball
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Help them to focus on the pure enjoyment of playing baseball, rather than on winning a trophy. Teach them to love baseball all of their lives, rather than learn to avoid it because they are not supremely talented at it. Do not give them early reasons to avoid anything in life, which is precisely what you do when you place the emphasis on achieving external awards rather than internal fulfillment. Rather than focusing solely on a report card grade, which is less important later in life, talk with them about what they are studying, how they can apply it in life, whether they are happy with themselves in school, what they like to study and what meaning they see in it for them now and in the future. If they pursue only the award, once they have attained it, they may no longer wish to pursue that area or endeavor. I would assume you want your children to love music, not to pass the obligatory music class and then disavow any interest in music for a lifetime. Teach them the inner joy of learning and applying what they gain for themselves.

Next: Let children set their own goals 

Mother and daughter smiling
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Stay out of the way of their grandiose dreams except to serve as a positive encourager. Most children are afraid of their own greatness and set their sights too low, or they are the product of parental interference in which parents, well intentioned though they may be, tell their children what they should aim for in life. If an 11-year-old girl wants to be a doctor, encourage her to dream in that direction, even if she hasn't shown what you think are the appropriate aptitudes or attitudes. If she is not going to become a doctor, she will make the adjustments as she goes along, and there is no problem in having to adjust one's goals. If you tell children they cannot do something or to be more realistic, you are only teaching them to distrust themselves and to become unnecessarily anxious about something that will surely work itself out.

Why it's important to raise no-limit children

Happy family
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No-limit children have learned a different response to the same stimuli because they know the world to be friendly. Their behavior is meant "for the best," or at least their mistakes are "honest." Therefore, if an action goes awry, it does not elicit feelings of guilt. Remorse, learning, redoing and improving are possible responses instead. Rather than worry, a no-limit child sees future events as exciting adventures, opportunities to grow, chances for fun challenges and new experiences. Since self-worth is not tied to performance, the worry about "doing well" is eliminated. No-limit children are "doers," and guilt and worry do not do anything. Thus, it is very unlikely they would bother themselves with negative thinking or destructive behaviors.

Living is not a race; it is a journey, something to be enjoyed each day. You can do a great deal to help children to understand this important truth, and you will get a nice bonus as well—that is, a lot less anxiety for yourself as part of the bargain.

Some time ago, my mother wrote me the following poem that summarizes beautifully the feeling I want to convey to anyone involved in a child's life.

A mother can but guide ...
then step aside—I knew
I could not say, "This is the way
that you should go."

For I could not forsee
what paths might beckon you
to unimagined heights
that I might never know.

Yet, always in my heart
I realized
That you would touch a star . . .
I'm not surprised!

— Hazel Dyer

You can help your own children to touch their own stars if you follow that important advice. Guide, then step aside.

Dr. Wayne Dyer is the co-author of four children's books, the most recent titled, No Excuses (Hay House). His voice can be heard in the new Pixar film Day & Night, released June 18 with Toy Story 3.

Keep Reading from Dr. Dyer:
Don't let worry get the best of you
How to live with ambition and meaning
The resolution it's never too late to make


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