John Cowan - The Success Attitude

Publish Date
Friday, 18 August 2017, 2:42PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

Gidday, I’m John Cowan from the Parenting Place.

I’m sure all of us would love to leave our children a farm and squillions of dollars when we croak. Not many of us will be able to do that, but we can all leave them with an awesome attitude that will help them become successful in every aspect of life – their finances, relationships, mental health – perhaps  enough success to get their own squillion-dollar farm!

This success attitude comes from how we respond to their mistakes when they are little. If your kid, say, drops a juice jug and spills mess all over the floor, we could yell at them and tell them they are stupid.  They will learn mistakes should make you feel bad, and if no one else yells at you, you should yell at yourself. If, instead, we say, “That’s all right honey. I’ve got more juice in the cupboard and I’ll get you some as soon as I’ve cleaned up this mess,” that spineless response  will teach them that if they make mistake in life, someone – probably Mum or Dad – will always recue them and bail them out. 

But if you look at the spilt juice and say, “Oh, Honey. You’ve got a problem…”, (it’s amazing how many kids think that that is YOUR problem but you give them ownership of the problem  – “YOU”VE got a problem”), “…but you’re a clever kid, you can sort this. Here’s a sponge, you have a crack at cleaning it up and I’ll come back and see how you are getting on”. You’ve not been angry, you’ve  let them know you think they can fix their mistake and you give them tools to solve it. No they won’t do a good enough job of it – it’ll still be sticky –  but that is not the point. The point is that they will learn, “Most mistakes aren’t lethal. I own up, and then I fix it”. What an awesome attitude  - a real attitude of success.

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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