Most parents want to raise their children in a way that allows success. The word “success” is one that is relatively subjective; it means different things to different people. For instructional purposes, we’ll define success as: exhibition of a positive character that assists a person with achieving their goals.
Of all the people in a child’s life, the parents are most influential. A good parent aims to keep their children out of trouble, respect others, and lead productive, happy lives. The methods that a parent uses are often subject to individual preferences, but there is indeed a series of traits parents exemplify that translates to success for the child.
Sources used as references for this article predominantly consist of high-tier academic institutions (e.g. Duke University, University of California, University of Michigan), and draws information from rigorous experimental studies. This method was chosen to minimize the bias that exists pertaining to the complex topics of parenting and intelligence.
Here are 8 traits of parents that raise successful children:
1. They have high expectations.
Put simply: degree of expectation has a tremendous effect on childhood performance. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) concluded: “Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets.” In other words, money doesn’t matter nearly as much as motivation.
The result: 96 percent of children that scored the highest on standardized tests had parents that were adamant about them attending college.
2. They teach responsibility early on.
Children may not appreciate being given chores…not yet anyways. However, there exists a correlation between degree of responsibility assumed during childhood and success. The simplest reason is that, by giving the child a sense of ownership over something (e.g. chores, babysitting, helping others, etc.), instills work ethic and a responsible mindset – two important attributes for success.
3. They teach basic social skills.
Research shows a direct correlation between kindergarten-age social skills and degree of achievement reached during age years 25+. Kristen Shubert, a program director at the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, states: “This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future.”
4. Family relationships are healthy.
University of Illinois professor, Robert Hughes Jr., states that children living in high-conflict households have a propensity to perform worse than children living in emotionally-healthy households. Children of single-parent households that are nonconflictual also collectively perform at higher standards than conflictual two-parent households.
5. They’ve achieved academic success.
A 2014 study undertaken at the University of Michigan, researchers examined the reading and math achievements of children born to parents with various levels of educational attainment. Children with parents that had completed high school or college were more likely to reciprocate that success; while children born to adolescent mothers with limited education were likely to underachieve.
6. The cherish the child/parent relationship.
This one goes without saying, but the degree to which a child is nurtured by their parents can have a significant impact on success. One study concludes: “…early maternal sensitivity predicts social skills and academic achievement through mid-adolescence…with…enduring effects of social competence (effectiveness of romantic engagement) and academic competence (educational attainment) during adulthood.”
7. They are less stressed.
Ken Nomaguchi, a sociologist at Bowling Green University, states “Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly.” Psychologists attribute this to a phenomenon called emotional contagion – an enigmatic ability to sense and “catch” the emotions of another person.
When a parent is stressed, it can negatively impact their children’s success.
8. They preach the importance of effort.
Although genetics is believed to play an important role in determining intelligence, parents of successful children preach effort more than smarts. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck posits that children and adults think about success in one of two ways: a “fixed mindset” or “growth mindset.” Simply put, a growth mindset emphasizes effort in overcoming challenges; while a fixed mindset teaches innate intelligence, character and creative ability are determined and unmalleable.
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Parents of successful kids overwhelmingly preach a growth mindset.