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“I want my kid to be successful in life!’ How these 7 habits can help you do that, according to science.

In that As parents, all we want for our children is to see them to succeed at life. While there is no set manual when it comes to raising children, scientists have found several factors and a range of practices that contribute to children growing into successful adults. 

Here are 7 useful and interesting habits that parents have taught their kids that helped them blossom into thriving adults.

Teach them to value their efforts rather than their gifts.

Rather than rewarding your youngsters for his/her gifts, praise them for their efforts. This shift encourages them to learn the value of effort, so they become resilient through tough times rather than living up to a ‘gift’ label and being afraid to fail. 

To put it another way, instead of, ‘Sarah, you’re such a smart girl!’, or, ‘Eric, that’s a fantastic painting!’ try saying, ‘Sarah, I’m so proud of how hard you worked on that math problem!’, and ‘I love the colours you’ve used! I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into the painting.’

Much of this understanding stems from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, and it’s also one of the top pieces of advice given to young people and their parents by Jeff Bezos.

Introduce your kids to positive role models.

Role models serve as inspiration to young children. Providing a good role model for your kids is essential for their positive development and eventually leading meaningful lives. 

Research conducted by New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Illinois researchers, showed that boys and girls at age 5, really believed both men and women were equally intelligent. But this belief changed intensely for girls by age 7 and 8. Their environment conditioned them to believe that men were more likely smarter than women.

This wrong notion led girls to feel less motivated to pursue ambitious career choices and novel activities than boys in their age group. This conclusion, however, is perplexing as girls, on an average, fare higher than boys academically and also have higher college acceptance rates.

It all comes down to the impact of stereotypes, even at such young ages – and this can be only changed when positive role models, especially female role models, are made a priority for both boys and girls.

Outdoor playtime is a need.

Research shows that children had a tougher time developing good reading skills in schools that didn’t incorporate outdoor recess in the course of the day than their counterparts who engaged in outdoor play as a break in their daily learning schedules.

A more recent study from North Carolina State University shows that when time is spent outdoors, kids between the ages of 10-18 show an improvement in their emotional and intellectual well-being, along with their overall health.

Although the world isn’t looking the way we thought it would as we head into the summer, and even though the stay-at-home orders are still in order in many parts of the world, finding ways to get your kids outside is still important.

Reduce their screen time to a limited number of hours.

There is hardly a more controversial topic in the 2020s than kids and screen time. While our parents may have had to share one screen with an entire family, most households today can watch many at once, even on the go.

Although screens can entertain, educate, and keep children occupied, too much use can only lead to problems. Limiting your children’s screen time may seem like a daunting task or an endless struggle, but believe us, it’s worth it. 

When researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia combined many sets of previous data, they found the optimal realistic digital usage to be between 1 to 2 hours a day.

Without screens to keep them occupied, children are forced to engage their critical and creative thinking to entertain themselves. Whether it’s creative play, writing, activities or sports, fine and gross motor skills are developed while a child is physically engaged.

With toys, less is always more.

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Toled, children who were given fewer toys played longer, deeper and more creatively than their counterparts.

Much like how too many choices may be overwhelming to adults, too many toy choices can also be easily overwhelming for children. When met with an array of choices, children find difficulty deciding what to play with, making it hard to stay focused with so many other toys competing for their attention.

It’s ok for your kids to see you fail.

As parents, we feel an automatic need to hide our fears and failures in front of our children – which works the other way around too, as children start to think of us as gods. But the consequences can be quite the opposite of the intention. 

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted an experiment with children aged 15 months and older to see how this behaviour affected the child. Results showed a direct correlation between how much or little parents allowed a child to witness their struggles and failure, and the child’s resilience. 

Although it may seem counter intuitive, there are long term benefits, for both you and your child, to showing them how to deal with hardships from a young age. Knowing that things don’t always come easy and some goals require hard work is a valuable life lesson for successful growth. 

Stay close, but keep your distance.

With the need to keep their child safe and happy, some parents adopt the helicopter parenting style. These parents take ‘being supportive’ to the next level and hover over their children at every stage of their lives. 

The former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims, described helicopter parenting as the bane of successful kids in her book, ‘How to Raise an Adult’. She goes on to draw from her experiences and share her lessons of letting kids try their hand at things and fail, letting them fight their battles for themselves while you fight the urge to intervene.

Hey, no one said it was going to be easy.

The bottom line is that parenting is important! And by using scientific parenting methods, we can strive to make a significant difference in our children’s lives.

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