7 Things Parents Can Do to Foster Success in Their Children

By Nikki Harper

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

Parenting is tough; the choices you make day by day as a parent are often instinctive and always made with love, but it’s not always easy to figure out the best way to help an individual child to be the best they can be.

Most parents want their children to be healthy and happy, above all else, but hot on the heels of those two wishes comes a wish for their children to be successful – however you may choose to measure success. Fortunately, there are easy ways to foster a potential for success in your child, and there’s research to back up these techniques too.

1 Read to Your Child

Yes, tech can be great for kids. But as the posters in my local library say, no app can replace your lap. Not only is reading to your child a great chance to snuggle up and interact, it also helps to set up good habits for life and can contribute towards your child’s intellectual development. The benefits start young too. According to the New York University School of Medicine, reading to infants gives them a significant literacy boost which is still evident four years later before they start elementary school [1].

According to the British Cohort Study, which tracks over 17,000 people, researchers found that reading for pleasure as a child or young person was linked to greater progress in maths, spelling and vocabulary [2]. The study looked at individuals from similar social backgrounds who had similar test results aged 10; those who read more frequently ended up with higher test results than those who read less or not at all.

2 Limit Screen Time

There is clear evidence that too much screen time can hinder brain development in very young children [3]. Screen time can affect many things in the developing brain, from trouble with social interaction to an expectation of instant gratification and difficulties with impulse control.

It’s a rare parent who would want to deny their child the benefits of modern tech entirely, but the key is in understanding where to draw the line. To help, the American Academy of Pediatrics have produced guidelines [4]. They recommend that children below 18 months should have no screen time at all, except perhaps for video chats if family members live at a distance. Children aged 2-5 could have up to one hour a day of carefully chosen media time, which parents should watch with them. From 6 years onwards, it’s a matter of choosing the right media, setting boundaries which feel right for your family and ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with your child’s sleep, social life, non-screen play time, meals and other activities.

3 Eat Together

According to The Family Dinner Project, a non-profit operating out of Harvard University, eating together as a family has real benefits for children [5]. Their research shows that kids who eat with their family at least five times a week grow up to have better self-esteem, higher average grades and lower rates of depression, teen pregnancy and substance abuse.

This makes perfect instinctive sense, of course: in today’s busy-busy world, mealtimes can sometimes be the only real chance for the whole family to sit down together and to talk properly. Ideally, ban phones and screens from the dinner table, otherwise the whole point of the family togetherness is lost.

4 Model Patience and Delay Instant Gratification

As an adult, most things that you want take time to achieve. Sadly, very little comes to us at the click of a button or the swipe of a screen – very little worth having, that is. To set children up for long-term success, it’s important to model this concept. Whether it’s showing your kids how you work for long term career success, helping them to train a pet or helping them to set up a savings account for something they really want, find ways to show your child that the best things in life require effort and patience. Training for a favourite sport is also a good way to teach this. What matters is that your kids understand the importance of showing up day after day to work towards a goal, even when they don’t feel like it.

There’s research to back this up too, in the form of a classic 70s Stanford experiment known as the Marshmallow Experiment. This involved children being offered a marshmallow to eat – but being promised that if they could wait 15 minutes before eating it, they’d get another one. The results showed that children who did manage to wait grew up to have better social skills and test scores and were better able to handle stress.[6]

5 Show Them the World

We instinctively sense that travel is good for broadening both the mind and the heart – but of course not everyone can afford to travel extensively as a family. The good news is that even domestic travel can have benefits for your children. What matters most is exposing them to new sights, sounds, people and cultures.

The SYTA conducted research which found that over 50% of teachers believe that travel has a very positive impact on children and 79% of educators believe travel was essential in increasing cultural awareness. The research identified that children and young adults benefit from travel in numerous ways, including major increases in levels of respect, tolerance, intellectual curiosity, self-expression, adaptability and sensitivity. [7]

6 Don’t Skip the Chores

We’re not suggesting that your kids should be used as unpaid household help, but there is evidence that requiring children to do some chores has a positive effect on them. For example, in this 2015 Ted Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims talks about the Harvard Grant Study, which noted that its most successful participants had done chores when they were children. [8]

7 Embrace Failure

It’s really hard to watch your child struggle and fail and your instinct may well be to step in and to help or even to take over. Try not to. As counter intuitive as it may seem, the best thing you can do is to allow your child to fail, at least some of the time. By constantly stepping in, you are sending a message that your child isn’t capable and cannot succeed alone. By contrast, if you allow them to fail, you are sending out a message that you believe they can do it, eventually. Trying and failing but then trying again also instils in a child an appetite for hard work and perseverance, which they will need in the real world.

According to Dr Stephanie O’Leary, a clinic psychologist and author of ‘Parenting in the Real World: The Rules Have Changed’, “Over time, children who have experienced defeat will build resilience and be more willing to attempt difficult tasks and activities, because they are not afraid to fail.” [9]

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About the author:

Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and editor for Wake Up World. She writes about divination, astrology, mediumship and spirituality at Questionology: Astrology and Divination For the Modern World where you can also find out more about her work as a freelance astrologer and her mind-body-spirit writing and editing services. Nikki also runs a spiritualist centre in North Lincs, UK, hosting weekly mediumship demonstrations and a wide range of spiritual development courses and workshops.

Say hi at Questionology.co.uk or on Facebook.