There is an endless list of things we want for our children—happiness, fulfillment, and good health. But what can we do to ensure we help our children be more successful in life? We can start by instilling essential values and practices and empowering them to make good decisions.
So, what exactly goes into raising successful children? It’s not about just getting good grades and excelling at everything they do. It’s not necessarily about being the best at anything, either. But if trying their best and staying true to themselves isn’t a success, we don’t know what is.
10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Be More Successful
1. Have Conversations
Communication is vital no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s asking questions about how their day at school went or explaining why they can’t have unlimited screen time. This includes helping children be more successful.
“The best conversations happen when you’re both equally engaged. No matter your child’s age, you can take turns and have a conversation,” Dr. Dana Suskind, founder and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago, shared with CNBC. “Engage in back-and-forth conversation patterns by asking questions that encourage your child to describe the world around them or how they’re feeling,” she added.3
Having conversations about your child’s day and interests might seem small but having conversations and building communication skills is a lifelong skill worth having.
2. Have Dinner Together
One way to facilitate those conversations is around the dinner table. Not only does it encourage communication, but there are also physical, mental, and academic benefits. Finding a way to balance all these aspects of health is an important consideration when raising successful children.
“There have been more than 20 years of dozens of studies that document that family dinners are great for the body, physical health, the brains, and academic performance, and the spirit or the mental health,” Anne Fishel, a family therapist, clinical psychologist, and associate clinical professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School, told Harvard EdCast.4
3. Make Chores an Expectation
Age-appropriate chores encourage responsibility and support the development of a solid work ethic. Even something as small as unloading the dishwasher or folding and organizing their clothing help teach this lesson.
Doing chores as part of a routine, as opposed to a one-off favor, is a great habit to encourage success and can shape how they look at other tasks they’re responsible for, like homework and work.
4. Read to Them
There is no shortage of studies on the importance of reading to your children. This is one of the most important things to do to help children be more successful.
According to the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, there are many benefits!5 Some of these benefits include excellent opportunities for back-and-forth interactions that support word learning and preliteracy skills. The quantity of words that children hear is essential for language development, but so is the quality of language that they hear.
It’s not just about fostering a love of reading and turning your kiddos into bookworms. It’s also about all the other skills that come with reading, like writing, speaking, language comprehension, and empathy.
5. Let Them Fail
Empowering resilience is as simple as letting your children live and learn. Correlating failure with negative feelings like disappointment makes it seem like failure is an unfixable thing. Sending this message intentionally or unintentionally can hold your children back in the long run.
A study done by Stanford professors supports this.1 An article for KQED6 cited the study that said, “The more parents believed that failure is debilitating, the more likely their children were to see them concerned by their grades instead of actual learning and improvement.”
As hard as it can be to see your child struggle or fail, not allowing them to robs them of the ability to try again. Proving that they can learn new things and grow is an experience they need to have and will need to have more than once.
6. Foster Their Social Skills
Social-emotional development is more than just having a polite kid with good manners. Developed, healthy social skills are essential for navigating society, relationships, and their entire life. The most important social skills kids should learn include connecting and getting along with others, following directions, and being patient.
7. Develop Healthy Relationships with Your Kids
Let’s be honest: If there were a fail-proof guide for raising children, we’d all have a copy. And while there aren’t any hard and fast rules, making sure you have healthy relationships with your children is paramount to raising successful kids.
Having a healthy relationship with your kids models the kind of relationships they will come to expect in work, friendships, and romantic relationships, too. Healthy relationships include, but aren’t limited to, enforcing boundaries, saying no when appropriate, and not people pleasing by making themselves small. If they see these relationships at home, they will expect and give the same throughout their life which can help children be more successful.
8. Aim for Authoritative Parenting
There are many parenting styles, but not all of them yield the same results. Authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and gentle parenting–what’s a parent to do? Authoritative parenting is a healthy balance, but what does it look like in action? This type of parenting is when parents give their children a lot of love, but it isn’t love they must earn by doing something well. This parenting style encourages children to respect and listen to people in roles of authority but also dole out plenty of support.2
9. Limit Screen Time
Honestly, most days, it feels impossible to avoid screens. No, they aren’t all bad, but the quality and quantity of screen time matter. Kids who watch too much or play too much on a screen can experience less than desirable outcomes related to communication and problem-solving skills.
Even when it’s educational programming, limit your kiddo’s screen time. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines to get started7. It’s also worth mentioning that talking with your child and watching the program with them can be beneficial. This way, they can explain what they’re learning, making the lessons more concrete.
10. Empower Self-Advocacy
Advocating for yourself can be hard to do, even as an adult. Encouraging your children to speak up for themselves when something doesn’t feel right sends a powerful message about their worth and the people they interact with.
Just because they’re children doesn’t mean they don’t have very big feelings, and it doesn’t make their problems, challenges, or experiences any less than that of adults. Advocating for themselves encourages self-compassion and self-care, which are lifelong skills that some adults struggle to master. Can you imagine the success you’re setting them up for by making self-advocacy the rule and not the exception?
These 10 practices for raising successful children aren’t the only ways you can help children be more successful, but they’re certainly an excellent place to start. Success isn’t just about who makes the most money, has the most prestige, or has influence. It’s about balancing emotional, mental, and physical health and living a life you love. And hey, if you can lend a helping hand to help your kiddos achieve all that, it sounds like you’re an incredibly successful parent, too.