In case parents didn’t feel enough pressure in child-rearing, science is here to let us all know we’re probably failing in a few key areas of which we’re unaware.
Science! Is there anything it can’t do?
I stumbled across this piece – “Want to Raise Successful Kids? Science Says Do These 5 Things Every Day” – and had to read it because I’m
a) a parent
b) want to raise successful kids
c) trust science and
d) look for any reason to pay myself on the back “I do that one!” or shame myself “I don’t do that. I’m the worst” any chance I can get.
Truth be told, I had a slight problem with the article from the headline, but I’ll dive into that after reviewing the five habits.
Parenting Habit #1: Be A Nag (Sort Of)
OK, not a nag, but the article suggests to be on your kid’s butt about certain things continually.
“It can be exhausting, and sometimes you think your words are going in one ear and out the other. But British researchers found that ‘parents who articulate high expectations are more likely to have kids who grow up to be successful — and avoid some key pitfalls. ‘
The key: The kids didn’t necessarily like hearing all the ‘high expectations,’ and they didn’t always react civilly to hearing it. But at the end of the day, they heard it.”
Thank you, science! I knew my kids could hear me talk!
Even when I say “Did you hear what I said?” and they say “yes” and I say “repeat it back,” and then they get that glazed over look in the eyes like they were just asked to teach a calculus class.
Parenting Habit #2: Praise Them Correctly
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, works with teaching the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
The big takeaway from her work: When you praise kids, praise them for effort, not their abilities.
“Great job! You’re so smart!” < nope
“Great job! You worked hard and figured it out!” < yup!
And here’s some advice on how to brag about your kids without coming off like a douche.
Parenting Habit #3: Kick Them Out Of The House (for a while)
Science shows you should encourage kids to play outdoors as much as possible.
“Researchers in Europe tracked how much outside activity that 153 boys, aged 6 to 8, had every day. The correlation was striking:
‘The more time kids … spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. [It] also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.'”
Um. Yeah. Duh.
Parenting Habit #4: Read Like You Give A Crap
This is hard if you’re the parent of older kids – though I’m sure there’s some weird online movement urging parents to read to teens before bed – but parents who read to kids should act like they give a crap. Even when they’re too tired to give a crap.
The wrong way is simply to read. We’ve all been there (I plead guilty); sometimes you’re so exhausted reading to your kids that you’re almost on autopilot. I could probably recite the entire Ladybug Girl series of books from memory at this point.
But when you can, the more effective thing to do is to engage your child while reading. Ask them to read parts of the books. Ask them what they think will happen with the plot. If they’re too young for that, ask them to turn the pages for you.
To stay more engaged, I suggest reading to them from the book you’re currently reading.
It sure as hell will put them to sleep quicker.
Parenting Habit #5: No Freeloading
Plenty of chores.
The Harvard Grant Study found that people generally need two things to be successful in life: The first is love and the second is work ethic.
“How do we develop work ethic as young kids? You’ve got it: By doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, walking the dog, cleaning our rooms–all the stuff that kids often balk at and parents have to nag them about (see number 1, above).”
Just don’t ask them to do it all in one day. They know it needs to be done. Remember, they hear you. At least science and your ear doctor claim they do.
And those are the five habits.
You’re probably doing most, these aren’t groundbreaking, but it’s good to know there’s the research behind each idea.
Here’s my slight problem with the article…
Now, it could just be semantics, click-bait headlines or the fact the article is published on Inc.com and the headline “Want to Raise OK Kids? Science Says Do These 5 Things Every Day” just isn’t as eyeball-grabby, but what exactly is a “successful” kid?
Because success in my eyes, and in another parent’s eyes, is likely a much different vision.
Adopting all these habits as a parent will likely raise a well-adjusted kid. I’ll buy that idea.
But success is a personal opinion and there are millions of successful adults with parents who LOATHE what their kids do for a living.
Develop these habits.
Practice them daily for the sake of your kids.
Eventually come to the realization that whatever your child does in life, you did your best.
Success is in the eye of the beholder.
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