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Parents Of Successful Kids Do These 10 Things In Common, Science Finds

Parents Of Successful Kids Do These 10 Things In Common, Science Finds

Every parent wants their kids to be successful. It is the purest wish a parent can have. Making this wish a reality is an entirely different matter.

So what ensures a child’s success? Are some kids genetically predisposed to do better than others or are the parents completely on the hook for ensuring their children achieve their goals? It’s the old nature versus nurture debate–which has been raging since the beginning of time.

Regardless to your inclination on the subject or which side of the debate you find yourself –there is no denying that successful parenting plays a major role in producing stellar kids. Parenting that is ineffective–regardless to the natural intellect and aptitude of a child–can result in behavior issues, delinquency, criminality and academic problems. Good parenting is an essential requirement for producing high achieving children.

What Successful parenting looks like

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    There is no set recipe for raising kids. Psychologists have found a few common threads of successful parenting:

    1. Kids are assigned regular chores

    Research shows that when children are given chores at an early age it cultivates in them a sense of responsibility, self-reliance and mastery.

    At a Ted Talk event, Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult”  conveyed the idea that kids raised on chores go on to be collaborative coworkers, more empathetic– as they truly understand and have endured struggles. They also are able to work on tasks with minimal hand-holding.

    When using chores to build your child’s character, researchers caution that chores and allowance be kept separate. Studies show that external rewards can actually lower intrinsic motivation.

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    2. High expectations are established 

    Having realistically high expectations for kids is essential to successful parenting. More often than not, children rise to the expectations set for them. The trick is to set the bar high enough that your kids do have to stretch for it but keeping it in the realm of possible.

    For example, kids who have parents that expect them to go to college–usually do. Parents manage the child in a way that nurtures academic achievement while their kids work to maintain good grades so they can go to college. Establishing realistically high expectations points your children in the direction of success.

    3. Good coping skills are developed

    Children have to be taught to manage anger, delay gratification and properly handle conflict in order to achieve success. A lack of healthy coping strategies can lead to health and well-being concerns in children.

    4. Children are given room to fail

    A parent’s job is to manage and minimize risk–not to eliminate it. Successful parenting involves understanding that failure is a big part of success. And while this may sound counter-intuitive, research shows that more is gleaned from failure than success. Hanging back and giving children room to fail is very difficult for most parents but is essential. Successful failures assist in developing your child’s character, resilience and overall competence.

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    5. Social skills are developed

    In today’s world, social intelligence is just as important as intellect. A study spanning 20 years and involving the tracking of 700 kids found that those that are socially competent were more likely to earn a college degree and have a full time job by the time they turned 25.

    Successful parenting ensures that kids learn to be cooperative in their peer-to-peer relationships, helpful and able to empathize with others intuitively and without prompting.

    6. Quality time is spent early in a child’s development

    The number of hours moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement. It’s the quality of the time spent that counts. “Helicopter” or “Tiger” parenting is not the intended approach. Parents should work to keep the environment and interactions engaging and stimulating but not stressful.

    7. Developing tenacity and “grit” in children

    Encouraging kids to stick with things that are difficult or unpleasant sets them up for success later in life. Mental toughness and a “can do” attitude are critical for children to have firmly in place well before reaching adulthood. A child without a “fighting spirit” is unlikely to develop this trait later in life and commitment and the ability to handle sustained effort long term will always be an issue.

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    8. Assist children in developing a strong sense of self

    This is done by establishing balance as a parent. Over-parenting hinders a child’s  development of independence and permissive parenting robs kids of integrity, direction and the ability to focus and commit. Children need to be able to identify their own strengths, weakness, preferences and dislikes.

    9. Parent with the end in mind

    Most people parent with the mindset of dealing with the current situation and getting it under control as soon as possible; seeking the quickest solution. Successful parenting keeps in mind how we want our child to be as an adult, we should strive to be more thoughtful in the way we parent. Try to pause and capitalize on some of those small teachable moments that present themselves daily remembering that the best way to teach certain behaviors is by modeling them.

    10. Practice the three “F’s” of successful parenting: Firm, Fair and Friendly

    Consequences for unwanted behavior should be clearly stated and should be suited to the unwanted behavior or the punishment should fit the crime. Harsh punishments are unnecessary especially coupled with the other techniques mentioned previously. Even though the child has misbehaved keep the tone of the communication firm yet friendly and open.

    Successful children turn into successful adults and neither happens by accident. Successful parenting is deliberate and intentional.

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    Denise Hill

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    Published on November 12, 2020

    How to Identify And Play to Your Child’s Strengths

    How to Identify And Play to Your Child’s Strengths

    As you sit there, perhaps on a sofa, maybe a lounge chair, or while you’re sharing a meal at the table, you glance over to the pride and joy you are happy each day to call your child. They smile back, running around the table they learned to stand up using or kiss you on the cheek as they snatch your car keys for their first (or second, but what feels like hopefully the last) errand using your car. You watch as they take their plate from the table, ask if anyone needs anything on their way to the sink, and then finally meander towards the living room saying to you, “Bed fort after dinner?”

    How respectful! How creative! Such initiative!

    What you may not realize is that because we don’t often think about this in the day-to-day of parenting, your child’s strengths—the initiative, creativity, drive, passion, and introspective nature that turns other people off—are cultivated daily!

    If you’ve never given thoughts to your child’s inherent strengths, that’s okay. As is all too common, you’re conditioned to only look at what they need to fix.[1]

    Turns out, identifying, cultivating, and managing your child’s strengths isn’t very difficult. In fact, much of those three steps can occur during a visit to the park. Let’s discover simple and effective ways to highlight your child’s strengths.

    Identifying Strengths

    Now, I know what you may be thinking: between office meetings, Zoom sessions, laundry, and grocery shopping, when exactly do I have time to become a psychologist?

    I get it. But really, identifying your child’s strengths is not difficult. In fact, a simple exercise usually suffices—participate in their play!

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    Participate in Their Play

    Play can take many forms and is usually defined as an activity that does not bring extrinsic value to be enjoyed—us adults typically refer to these activities as “hobbies.” Whether your child is two or thirteen, children are children, after all, and play is essential.

    According to a report from the University of Utah, play is a way for children to practice “problem-solving, self-control, and learning how to share.”[2] Aren’t those powerful strengths that we should identify and cultivate in our supportive role of helping children thrive as adults?

    When children engage in play, they naturally show how they lead, how they empathize with others, and how they work with others (or not) to solve problems. If you spend time being present with your children during play, you will be able to see how your child’s strengths manifest in the simplest of activities. Seeing your children play allows you to see how they make mistakes, too, which is a powerful indicator of their sense of self.

    Allow (Supported) Mistakes—and Often!

    Identifying your child’s strengths has nothing to do with demanding them to be perfect. Far from it, actually. Remember—you are guiding them to becoming a self-sufficient and nurturing adult, and there aren’t many of us out there that are perfect!

    Highlighting moments when your child has made some mistakes and working through how to bounce back or fix that mistake can be wondrous when they are working towards understanding their effect on others, themselves, and the world.

    Just like parents that tend to focus too much on the negative, children too often learn more from their mistakes than their successes. Catch your child softly during a mistake, and work through a plan to get themselves out of it. Your goal is not to fix their issue, of course, but to build within them the capacity to make a better choice next time.

    When you take on this mindset of an engaging and present parent that is looking for ways to build your child’s strengths, you’ll be surprised at what you see them able to do.

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    Some solid examples of inherent child strengths to look for include:

    These are the soft skills that are being developed as young as preschool and even before. In today’s global workplace environment, ensuring that your child is developing in these (and other) areas will set them up for success.

    Okay, great. You’ve watched your children at the park or tag along with your teenager to a volunteer event and notice how gracious they are. How do we keep that going?

    As is normally the case, you’ll see that cultivating strengths is no more difficult than identifying them.

    Cultivating Your Child’s Identified Strengths

    Imagine this scenario: Thursday evening, and you’ve worked your fourth ten-hour day. Your partner is late getting home from work, and your three kids are all wanting different things for dinner that should have been made yesterday.

    At the exact moment you’re about to snap from the pressure, your middle child says, “Hey, maybe we can all act like chefs tonight and make our own dinners? Might be fun!”

    Um, yes, please?

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    As you settle in bed later that evening and reflect on that exchange in the kitchen, you start to highlight other times that child—and, as you doze, your other children in their own ways—stepping up and leading. You know this cannot be by accident, so what’s going on here?

    Provide Many At-Bats

    Just because a child can take their plate to the sink doesn’t mean they are responsible enough with Grandma’s China set. But when you provide the “at-bats” for children to build capacity using their strengths, you see the road to them handling more difficult scenarios becoming less and less cluttered with obstacles.

    There will come a day, and perhaps soon, that your child will be able to navigate that China with extreme grace. Today just ain’t that day, but with some work, it’ll come!

    Providing opportunities for your child to build on their strengths is a great idea. Everyone likes to feel competent, and your child is no different! Setting up scaffolded opportunities for them to showcase their budding personalities decreases the stress and increases the chance that, next time, they will perform even better.

    Teach Them to Trust but Verify

    Good leaders don’t have all the answers. Neither should you and of course, we don’t expect our children to know everything. But we should build within them the capacity for understanding what they don’t know and figuring out ways to get the information they need to work through their situations.

    You cannot always have the answers, either. So, what should you do?

    Exposing them to the world of information that exists is a good start. Great, you’ve identified your child is empathetic, but must they assist and provide supportive care to everyone they encounter? Or should there be some healthy boundaries established?

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    Working with your children to mold and curate these more nuanced approaches to their strengths will provide them with a good road map to use when they ultimately leave you and lead their own lives.

    Turning Weaknesses Into Opportunities

    While not exactly the elephant in the room, I can’t possibly write an article about child strengths without also addressing the fact that our children aren’t possibly capable of being good at everything.

    Perhaps one of your most important roles as a parent is to decide what strengths your child has and to inspire them to cultivate those strengths using the tips and suggestions in this article. However, there will be a wide variety of opportunities for you to work through the challenges your child experiences.

    I don’t want this to sound too harsh but the fact is, everyone has competencies on a spectrum: you can work, hustle, and grind to develop parts of your personality or skill set to whatever gain you set for yourself. Allowing children to operate with a mindset of progress, not perfection, will help their journey. You cannot be weak, after all, if you are constantly striving for improvement.

    So, the next time you take your kiddo out to the park, attend a professional sporting event, or perhaps when you’re playing cards in the living room on a cold winter night, pay attention to how they maneuver around.

    How are they asking for what they need? How are they offering support? How are they handling conflict? How are they bouncing back from missed opportunities or mess-ups?

    In each of those moments—and many more—the opportunity to cultivate strength in your child is just around the corner!

    More Tips on Developing Your Child’s Strengths

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

    Reference

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