“To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are will speak more loudly to your kids than anything you say.” ~ Eric Grietens, former Navy SEAL and Governor of Missouri
Parenting is hard work.
Children, by their very nature, lack the emotional and cognitive resources to navigate life without help. They’ll whine, cry, shout, beg, and complain for no reason. We may feel anger, annoyance, frustration and even guilt for how our child behaves.
But kids will be kids, as they say.
Despite the inevitable challenges of parenting, it is our responsibility to teach and set the example. Not all parents embrace this responsibility – and the effects can be devastating.
Parenting is an obligation that we must take on with the utmost sincerity. Indeed, how we decide to raise our children will profoundly influence the type of person he or she becomes.
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they question their parenting abilities. This is natural, and it is nothing for which to be ashamed.
Perhaps the most humble and righteous thing that a good parent can do is admit they don’t know everything. Being a parent is not something that happens – it is a process. Birth ‘happens’; parenting evolves.
This article focuses on eight science-backed methods of raising happy and prosperous children. As you read through, you’ll notice a diverse set of opinions and topics.
The common thread behind all of this advice is a scientific consensus, from psychologists, professors, social workers, and, most importantly, parents. The science of child development, while not perfect, provides a useful framework from which to operate.
Here are 8 things parents teach kids for success:
1. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Decades of research show that emotional intelligence is as critical to success– if not more so – than cognitive intelligence. Per a study conducted by TalentSmart, emotional intelligence (‘E.I.’) is the most reliable predictor of performance, blowing past I.Q. and personality.
E.I is the foundation of the following skills:
– anger management
– change tolerance
– customer service
– social skills
– stress tolerance
The most important thing a parent can do to cultivate a child’s emotional intelligence is to model good behavior and E.I.-related traits.
2. Forget ‘helicopter parenting.’
Helicopter parenting, or overparenting, is one of the most significant problems parents have according to Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshman at Stanford University.
Parents who hover around their kids (hence the word ‘helicopter’) aren’t doing them any favors. The same can be said of overprotection.
Giving your child more freedom can be difficult for parents. We love our kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. But, we must be willing to let our kids try new things, fail, and experience consequences; it is essential to the maturity process.
3. Learn how to give praise effectively
Continually praising a child for their innate gifts, like intelligence, makes it less likely that they will apply said gifts to bettering themselves. (They know they’re smart!)
Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, examined the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. She discovered that praising children for developing novel approaches to solving problems, even when unsuccessful, teaches them the importance of seeing things through, giving effort, and realizing their intentions.
4. Give them outside play time
The booming tech age is both exciting and novel. But the increasing reliance (addiction?) resulting from overuse of technology is troubling. There is perhaps nothing more disturbing than the child who comes home from school and spends the rest of their evening on an iPad, cell phone, or computer.
Research shows that overusing technology hampers a child’s social skill development, encourages a sedentary lifestyle, and inhibits a child’s academic growth.
When they want to go to a friend’s house, let them. If there’s space in front of your home, your kid should be spending at least an hour or two outside per day.
5. Give them chores
Lythcott-Haims found that one common trait among successful adults is that they reported having additional responsibilities (chores) as kids.
She says “By making them do chores – taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry – they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life. It’s not just about me and what I need in this moment.”
6. Be a bit pushy about school
According to researchers in from the University of Essex in the U.K., parents who have high expectations for their children – and consistently remind them of these expectations – are more likely to raise academically-successful kids.
Researchers note in the study “The measure of expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of attending higher education reported by the main parent, who, in the majority of cases, is the mother.”
7. Teach them resilience
Resilience, or the ability to rebound from setbacks, is a common trait shared among successful people. A high level of resilience enables one person to survive and thrive in circumstances that may defeat someone else.
How do you teach resilience to kids? Set a good example, demonstrate commitment and follow through, practice gratitude, and act as a mentor.
8. Teach them about serving others
We live in a highly individualistic and cynical world. In fact, studies show that most people, given a choice, will commit an act out of selfishness rather than the common good.
We need more people who serve others and who act as servant-leaders.
Emma Seppala, Ph.D., science director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, says “The best-kept secret to happiness is to be of service to others,” and that “Multiple studies have shown that happiness makes people 12 percent more productive.”