10 things parents of successful children have in common

Love to know the secret of raising happy, confident and capable children? Discover the 10 things parents of successful children have in common.

When we set out on the journey of parenting, and we welcome a new baby into the world, it doesn’t come with a user’s manual or a set of clear-cut instructions.

Instead we learn to parent on the fly, doing our best to tackle the challenges that will inevitably come our way and help our kids grow up into strong, independent, kind individuals ready to face the real world without abandoning their sense of wonder and joy. Talk about ambitious!

No wonder then that parenting can be just as frustrating, exhausting and tough as it can be joyful, rewarding and life-affirming.

10 things parents of successful children have in common

So, in absence of a definitive guide to raising a child, what should you be doing as a parent to give you children the best start in life?

The following ‘golden 10’ can be considered the basic commandments of parenting, based on real-life experiences and research. So if you’re seeking guidance or reassurance you’re on the right path, here are the 10 things successful parents have in common. 

1) They are role models

As parents, you and your partner (if you have one) have a responsibility to be good role models for your children, especially when it comes to relationships. Why? Because if you establish a healthy model of what a rewarding, mutually-beneficial relationship looks like, your children are more likely to mimic and seek out that pattern later in life.

And, according to a Harvard study that has been running for almost eight decades, strong relationships are the best basis for a successful life.

2) They don’t avoid assigning chores

As a mum of two teens, Julie Lythcott-Haims knows a thing or two about parenting. She’s also a successful author and a former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University. So she’s well qualified to share her insights into the Harvard study we just mentioned. y.

And Julie points out that kids who do chores learn not just the skills, but the importance of having skills, because they are not raised to expect anyone to do things for them. Chores are a way towards greater independence and tenacity – both of which are needed for success.

3) They bond the right way

Apparently, your early parenting style has a profound effect on the ability of your child to succeed in school and in life. A study found that mothers who were more sensitive in their attitude towards their little ones in the first three years of life had a long-term effect on their kids, from how well they do in school tests, to their adult years.

4) They encourage socialisation

The American Journal of Public Health has published a study that shows the impact of early socialisation on their most important choices later in life. Apparently, properly developed social and emotional skills lead to a better-adjusted and equipped child who is more likely to pursue academic education, a career and cherish their relationships well into their adulthood.

5) They provide them with an education

Parents with a higher level of education often understand the value of knowledge and inspire and encourage their children to study – so they’re better able to compete for the careers they want later in life. 

But it’s not just comfortable, well-educated parents who are raising successful children through supporting their education. Many impoverished families also strive to give their children a strong start to life by applying for education foundation scholarships or similar financial support.

6) They practice self-care

Stress is often an inevitable part of parenting – from worrying that your child is eating and sleeping well, to ensuring they’re working hard at school and helping them cope with the emotional roller coaster of the teen years. And that’s without dealing with any of your own work, finance or relationship worries!

Stress in the home is known to have a lasting effect on children’s development, so it’s important to find a way to balance your stress, avoid resorting to ‘helicopter parenting’ and find a proper way to vent when you need it – and keep your home as stress-free as possible. 

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7) They focus on effort

It’s tempting to praise our kids constantly, but research shows that the content and the focus of those kind words play a role in shaping the right mindset in kids.

Instead of success-centric approach where we praise the outcome, the goal is to focus on effort – this provides a new point of view that shows your children that their determination, excellent thinking patterns or problem-solving skills trump the actual result.

8) They support mums to work

Families where mums are workers, and not just caretakers, are the most likely to produce kids that aim for success. So instead of feeling guilty about working or running your own business (if indeed you do), celebrate the fact that you’re setting a positive example for your children.

Need more convincing? This Harvard study supports this claim and shows that working mums raise more successful daughters and sons.

9) They teach them grit

Grit is described as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals”, and it is linked to better professional outcomes, as well as a general focus towards the future.

So try to promote a mindset of passion and commitment. Giving up is often a factor in preventing success, and children need to be encouraged to persevere, despite any obstacles and the duration of their efforts.

10) They encourage gratitude

Just like chores teach children responsibility and prevent them from feeling entitled, building an attitude of gratitude from childhood is another crucial factor in enabling your children to embrace everything others do for and with them.

Gratitude promotes empathy, and a genuine need to contribute and give, helping them become people of integrity and kindness that can aim for, but not become blinded by, success.

Are you raising ‘successful’ children?

There’s so much pressure on children today to succeed – and on parents to raise children who will excel at exams and their subsequent career(s).

But for us the true measure of ‘success’ in parenting is to raise children who are emotionally and physically healthy and happy. Children with a strong sense of self-worth, and the confidence to be themselves – and pursue whatever ambitions they may have.

There’s no such thing as the perfect child, nor the perfect parent. So if you’re doing your best, you’re probably a pretty brilliant parent already (even if you do sometimes have your off moments or days). And if these tips help you to feel like you’re getting it right, or give you ideas for new things to try, then that’s even better.

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Photo by Annie Spratt