My father actually paid me $2 to listen to each chapter of an audiobook and then summarize the main points in my own words, so I wound up listening to dozens of audiobooks throughout my childhood. (I didn’t get paid for chores as they were simply expected of me.) The trick was that he would choose books on management, wealth building, and personal growth.
Both of my parents went out of their way to make sure I felt heard, understood and valued. They would explain to me what was interesting and important about anything I was saying and would then expand on the topic with their own knowledge. And they were always willing to answer the million “why” questions I asked, with real answers. They never responded “because I said so.
Researcher Brené Brown talks about the concept of teaching children that they are worthy of love and belonging, rather than telling them they’re perfect. This is a big distinction, and I believe I’m a good example of why this works. There will be days when the world is going to chew you up and spit you out. People are going to laugh at you and call you names, and they will reject you and your ideas. Knowing all of this will happen to your child and insisting that they are perfect no matter what will not help them.
When I was a teenager, Dad had me mowing his yard, which was a sprawling acreage back then. Of course I had more fun things to do than household chores, so I got it done as quickly as possible. One day when I had finished, he thanked me and told me he wanted to tell the neighbors about my mowing skills, so they would hire me to do their yards as well.
I was not allowed to indulge myself in negative self-talk. I was shown how to cancel negative beliefs (like “I can’t do this”), and replace them with positive ones, focusing on the desired outcome. I started doing visualization exercises and focusing on goal-setting at the age of five, beginning with small goals like teaching my dog how to sit and saving up to buy a bike. When I had success achieving these goals, it gave me the confidence to reach for bigger things, with the belief that I would attain them.