As parents, we want our children to grow up to be happy and healthy, on top of teaching them the qualities of a successful person. While there is no set technique that is linked to raising successful children, research carried out by psychologists have shown that there are a few things parents of successful children do to bring out the best in them.
Here are some common things that parents do to raise successful children:
1. Give their children chores right from the start
As reported by The Washington Times, research conducted by the University of Mississippi revealed that getting children to help with house chores from as early as 3 or 4 brings about huge benefits. According to Marty Rossmann who led the study, chores teach children about the importance of contributing to the family and give them a sense of empathy as they grow up. Those who grew up doing chores from young also turned out to be well-adjusted, enjoyed better relationships with the people in their life and tend to be more successful in their career.
However, researchers also warn against offering children an allowance in return for chores. Tying chores to a “carrot” may lower the motivation of a child in getting the chores done, as at the end of the day, he/she will only be doing it for the sake of the expected reward.
2. Teach their children good coping skills
With setbacks and disappointments being a natural part of our lives, one of the most important lesson we can pass on to our children is the ability to cope with these defeats. Dr Marie Hartwell-Walker, a US-based psychologist and marriage & family counsellor, shared in a PsychCentral article that children who pick up the skills to cope will gain the strength and confidence to carry on and face life’s challenges – such as when they do not perform as well as expected in exams or when their friends let them down.
One of the best ways to impart this skill to our children is by leading through example. Create opportunities that allow them to observe how you tackle your own challenges head-on and the process you go through when solving problems. In time, they will learn to apply these strategies when faced with similar situations.
3. Set high expectations according to their children’s abilities
Oftentimes, the achievement of children is linked to the expectations that their parents set for them in the first place and the things they do to help their children get there. For example, parents who expect their children to further their studies in university will do what they can to nurture their academic achievement and guide them towards success.
The practice of setting high expectations for our children in order to inspire their success is in line with the Pygmalion effect, a psychology finding that states that what we expect of others often becomes a reality. To help your children live up to your expectations, you might want to work with them to find out where their abilities lie, and then set a goal that encourages them to go beyond what they are capable of – taking care to keep it within reasonable limits.
4. Develop their children’s social skills
In our world today, having the knowledge and skills to do a job well is simply not enough to ensure one’s success. It is equally important for one to possess the soft skills to maintain good relationships with the people in their lives, and to have values such as empathy and compassion. These social skills can be instilled in children from young as they go a long way to help them attain success in life.
The correlation between one’s social skills and success in life is affirmed by a 20-year study conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania University and Duke University which tracked more than 700 children across the US from the time they started kindergarten up to age 25. Among the findings generated from the study included the fact that children who were socially competent had a higher likelihood of graduating from college and have a full-time job compared to those with limited social skills. While socially competent children were helpful, cooperative and are able to resolve problems on their own, those with limited social skills had a higher chance of having issues such as getting on the wrong side of law.
5. Children are “allowed” to learn from failures
A huge part of growing up involves understanding and learning that failure is a stepping stone to success. Thus, our role as parents is to give our children the opportunity to learn from their failures and work hard towards success. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck calls this the “growth mindset”, where one “thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities”. At the end of the day, the experience of learning from their failures help children to develop their character, build resilience and attain success.
6. Both parents resolve conflicts in a proper manner
Conflicts may be part and parcel of our lives, but how we resolve them can affect how well our children relate to others and cope with the challenges in life. E. Mark Cummings, a developmental psychologist at Notre Dame University, mentions in a Developmental Science article that when children witness conflicts at home which involve support, compromise, and positive emotions, they gain better social skills and enjoy better self-esteem and emotional security which can affect how well they do in school.
He explains that when children watch their parents working together to resolve conflicts, this helps to reassure them that mum and dad can work things through. On the other hand, chronic stress from witnessing frequent conflicts that go unresolved at home can cause negative emotions and behavior in children such as being worried, anxious, aggressive and struggling with their studies.
7. Encourage their children to stick to their goals
As researched by psychologist Angela Duckworth of University of Pennsylvania, grit (which is defined as a tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals) often correlates with educational attainment and academic success. Thus, it is beneficial for parents to encourage their children to stick to their goals in life – despite the challenges – in order to commit to a future they want to create for themselves.
8. Help their children grow up and discover their identity
The key to achieving this is to create a balance when it comes to parenting.
Children need to learn to identify their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and to think about what’s best for themselves in any given situation. While over-parenting your children hinders their ability to think independently, permissive parenting deprives them of the guidance and ability to focus and commit. Instead, try to make use of every teachable opportunity that present itself, as the best way to help your children learn about themselves and how the world functions is by modelling the appropriate actions and behaviour.
Written by Justina Goh