Every parent wants their kids to succeed in life.
Success means different things to different people. But generally, it means accomplishment and getting positive results.
Many factors contribute to a person’s achievement.
But research finds that there are several common parenting qualities present in successful people’s early childhood.
Here’s a list of things parents can do to create favorable conditions according to decades of scientific research. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point for parents who want to raise successful children.
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1. Warm And Accepting Parent Or Caretaker
In 1938, a special study was conducted at Harvard University looking for the answer to this question1.
In the Harvard Grant Study, 268 male Harvard students, including John F. Kennedy, were tracked over the next seventy years. Their physical and emotional health were recorded, and their life successes, or the lack of, were analyzed2.
Researcher arrived at one clear conclusion:
Relationship is the secret to a successful and happy life. Having a childhood in which one feels accepted and nurtured is one of the best predictors of adult success and well-being.
This outcome was hardly surprising.
According to the Attachment Theory proposed by Bowlby & Ainsworth in the 1950s, a child who has a warm and nurturing caretaker is much more likely to have positive development and outcomes in life.
Although the Harvard study has also found that recovering from a lousy childhood is possible, memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength.
So here it is…
Developing a close-knit relationship with your kid to create a childhood filled with happiness is one of the most important keys to raising outstanding kids.
2. Responsive Parenting
Experiences and interaction shape brain architecture3.
It’s especially important for young children to have plenty of positive serve-and-return interaction.
Healthy brain architecture needs a strong foundation built by appropriate input from responsive, caring adults.
3. Be Kind To Our Children
As discovered in the Harvard Grant Study, having a close-knit, supportive and accepting relationship with an adult is the best predictor of accomplishment and happiness later in life.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to be supportive and accepting to your child if you’re not kind to them.
Also, if we want to bring up kind adults, we need to model it. It’s hypocritical if we’re teaching our children to be kind to others, but we don’t show our kindness to our kids.
It’s not uncommon to see parents yell at their little ones, “This is rude. You’re not being kind to your friend!” It doesn’t make sense, and it’s definitely not what we want our kids to model after.
4. Be Kind And Firm
Many “tough” parents are afraid that their kindness will allow their children to rule the house.
But being kind doesn’t mean being permissive. These are two separate things.
Being permissive means you’re warm and kind, but you cannot set rules or maintain boundaries4.
Being kind and firm means you can kindly let your child know what the boundaries are and then firmly enforce them. It is the characteristic of authoritative parenting, which has been constantly found to be associated with a kid’s success. Children of authoritative parents are less likely to dropout from school5.
Positive parenting is one form of authoritative parenting parents can adopt.
5. Improve Our Emotional Regulation
Being able to regulate one’s emotions is crucial in achieving success and happiness in life6,7.
Children learn from watching us and seeing how we behave8,9.
If we are upset every time our children misbehave, it’s unreasonable to expect kids to be able to regulate themselves perfectly.
Most of us were brought up being yelled at or reprimanded when we misbehaved. So it’s usually a huge trigger for us. We need to work on ourselves to self-regulate when we’re triggered.
- 1.Vaillant GE. TRIUMPHS OF EXPERIENCE: THE MEN OF THE HARVARD GRANT STUDY. Harvard University Press; 2012.
- 2.Woodhams V, de Lusignan S, Mughal S, et al. Triumph of hope over experience: learning from interventions to reduce avoidable hospital admissions identified through an Academic Health and Social Care Network. BMC Health Serv Res. Published online June 10, 2012. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-153
- 3.Greenough WT, Black JE, Wallace CS. Experience and Brain Development. Child Development. Published online June 1987:539. doi:10.2307/1130197
- 4.Robinson CC, Mandleco B, Olsen SF, Hart CH. Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive Parenting Practices: Development of a New Measure. Psychol Rep. Published online December 1995:819-830. doi:10.2466/pr0.19220.127.116.119
- 5.Rumberger RW, Ghatak R, Poulos G, Ritter PL, Dornbusch SM. Family Influences on Dropout Behavior in One California High School. Sociology of Education. Published online October 1990:283. doi:10.2307/2112876
- 6.Graziano PA, Reavis RD, Keane SP, Calkins SD. The role of emotion regulation in children’s early academic success. Journal of School Psychology. Published online February 2007:3-19. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2006.09.002
- 7.Grandey AA. Emotional regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2000;5(1):95-110.
- 8.Gottman JM, Katz LF, Hooven C. Parental meta-emotion philosophy and the emotional life of families: Theoretical models and preliminary data. Journal of Family Psychology. Published online 1996:243-268. doi:10.1037/0893-318.104.22.168
- 9.Adam EK, Gunnar MR, Tanaka A. Adult Attachment, Parent Emotion, and Observed Parenting Behavior: Mediator and Moderator Models. Child Development. Published online January 2004:110-122. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00657.x