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Science Says Parents of the Most Successful Kids Do These 10 Things

We all want to lead happy, successful lives. But for parents, there's a time when your priorities shift a bit, and your most important goals start to involve setting your kids up for success and happiness in their own lives. Parental priorities aren't the only factor, of course. There are plenty of stories out there about people who defied the odds and achieved great success despite their parents' involvement, not because of it. Still, scientists and researchers have made a lot of progress studying what the parents of the larger share of successful people have in common. Here are 10 of the most important things those parents do;

1. They move to the best neighborhood they can afford.
Moving can be expensive and disruptive. But parents who want to give their kids a leg up and set them on the road to success will uproot their lives if necessary. The No. 1 thing they can do is to move to a location with good schools, great opportunities, and the chance to grow up with more privileged peers.
This advice is controversial, but it's effective. It's why parents in developing countries try to immigrate to wealthier nations, and it's the thinking behind the advice to "buy the cheapest house you can find in the best neighborhood."

"Buying a neighborhood is probably one of the most important things you can do for your kid," explains Ann Owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California, who studied how wealthy people use their means to improve their kids' lives effectively.
2. They model and encourage good relationships.
Since 1938, researchers at Harvard University have been studying the choices and experiences of a group of 400 men, all of them students at Harvard.
The project is called the Grant Study, and the group of subjects included President John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, who later became editor of The Washington Post during Watergate.
After seven-plus decades of surveys, questions, analysis, and study, what's the single thing they came up with that leads to health and happiness? Dr. Robert Waldinger, who had been running the Grant Study since 2003 put it succinctly:
The lessons aren't about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.
So what do parents of successful kids do, armed with that knowledge? It's simple to say and hard to execute: They model good relationships with friends and family, and they encourage their children to nurture their relationships, too.
3. They praise their children the right way.
Parents of successful kids learn to praise in a way that encourages positive lifelong habits. This means praising children for the strategies and processes they use to solve problems, rather than praising them for their innate abilities. This is called Process Praise as opposed to Person Praise. Here's a link to to a synopsis of Carol Dweck's study.

A few simple examples:
Don't praise a child for getting a high grade on a test; praise her for the studying she did, which led to the result.
Don't praise for winning a race or a game; instead, offer praise for all the sweat he put in during practice—again, which led to the result.
Don't say, "You're so smart!" or "You're such a talented singer!" Instead, you want to find a way to say things like, "You did a great job figuring out that problem," or, "You sound so great—all those hours of practice paid off!"
The goal is always to encourage kids to develop a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. As an example, Dweck suggests thinking of Albert Einstein. If you think, "Einstein was brilliant," that would reflect a fixed mindset; observing instead that Einstein figured out how to solve some very difficult problems would reflect a growth mindset.
4. They encourage them to do scut work.
A couple of years ago, Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and the author of the book, How To Raise an Adult, said one of the best pieces of advice she had for parents was to make their kids do chores-and to never do their homework for them.
"Teach them the skills they'll need in real life, and give them enough leash to practice those skills on their own," said Lythcott-Haims, who based her conclusions on the Harvard Grant Study (from No. 2, above). "Chores build a sense of accountability."
5. They ensure their kids know they will always support them.
I don't mean that you'll always support them financially. When they are adults, you need to kick them out of the nest.

Instead, this is the hotly-debated subject as to whether parents should encourage their kids to "suck it up" when they are hurt or suffer setbacks, or instead "run to their side."

Surprisingly, (to me, anyway) the science supports the "run to their side" style of parenting. It's about responding supportively—while not solving all your kids' problems for them. "Parents who respond to their children's emotions in a comforting manner have kids who are more socially well-adjusted than do parents who either tell their kids they are overreacting or who punish their kids for getting upset," says child psychologist Nancy Eisenberg of Arizona State University.
6. They help them to become resilient.
Resilience, defined as "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness," is an underpinning of success. It's what allows people to, as Sir Winston Churchill put it, "go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
That undaunted attitude is what allows them to work through problems without fear of coming up short—exactly the behavior that the "praise for the effort" tactic that Carol Dweck advises is designed to develop. So how do you help kids to develop resiliency? Set an example, trust your children to solve many of their own problems, and encourage risk-taking while also asserting your authority as a parent when it's sensible.

7. They advocate for them at school.
This next bit of science-backed advice requires some judgment. On the one hand, it's important to let kids solve their own problems when possible. On the other hand, your job as a parent requires you to act like an authority figure and a determined advocate.
Nowhere is this more true than in the schools. A 45-year longevity study called the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth found that schools often ignore the most talented students, in favor of trying to increase the performance of more average pupils.
This all comes from a misguided belief that gifted students will achieve on their own—even in spite of a strict educational system that doesn't serve them well. Unfortunately, it's a huge societal mistake. The only real antidote is parental involvement and advocacy.
8. They remind them (ahem) of their high expectations for them.
Of all the research on parenting, this one seems to prompt the most polarized responses.
Researchers at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom found that parents who set super-high expectations for their teenage daughters—and who constantly reminded them of those expectations—had daughters who were less likely to become pregnant, drop out of school, or wind up in lousy, low-wage jobs.
In other words: nag more; ultimately succeed more.
Although the study focused specifically on girls, it didn't exclude the likelihood that such high-tempo reminders would have a similar positive effect for boys.
9. They hope that they marry the right person.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote recently:
I have had more than a little bit of luck in life, but nothing equals in magnitude my marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. I betray no secret in reporting that, without him, I would not have gained a seat on the Supreme Court.
Science backs her up. As Jeff Haden has written, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that marrying the right person leads people to "perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs."
Unless you're living in a society with arranged marriages, however, this is much more about your children's choices than anything you can do for them as a parent. Still, you can do your best to model a good marriage relationship and simply make sure they understand that the choice of who to spend your life with is probably the most important choice most people make.
10. They encourage them to act like entrepreneurs
While we know that money is not the key to happiness, a lack of money can certainly sometimes lead to misery. We all know people who are less successful than they'd otherwise be because they spend their entire lives chasing enough money to live. They have to make long-term decisions based on short-term financial considerations.
So how do you help your children to grow up to avoid this trap? Financial literacy is important, but so is encouraging them to act entrepreneurially. A few months ago, I asked 118 successful entrepreneurs if they could point to a habit or an experience that was responsible for their success?
A whopping 110 out of the 118—93 percent—said the answer was simple: It was that they'd been encouraged to act like entrepreneurs by their parents and had gotten started when they were still young.
 

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Good list. As in point #1, the right zip code is so critical especially young people that achieve early. Speaking from experience, don’t take your kid to small town Texas because you think a safe environment is better.

and if you’re someone who parents took you to the less-than-ideal zip codes, get to the better ones as quickly as possible.

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Just now, futureman said:

#7 is bullshit and parents who do that are the worst.  the fucking worst.  

That one bothered me when I first read it too. I will say this, with our kids, every teacher they had through school received my phone number with the caveat,  : if you ever have an ounce of trouble from my kid, call me one time and that's all it will take. If there is an opportunity academically, we would love to discuss and develop an action plan."  When their EC's had events, at least one of us was there.   Having a presence in their activities at school is fundamentally important. 

Always taking their side against teachers/coaches/ etc and helicoptoring your precious little angel is destructive.  I think that's where we're in agreement.  I would choose the term "Participate" over "advocate."  Our kids would LOL if someone asked them if we protected them from teachers/ coaches/ etc.  They also wouldn't blink an eye when asked if they knew we had their back when it came to their efforts at school.

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The one thing I need to get better at is making my kids do the scut work (that’s an interesting term I’d never heard before by the way). I’m not invested in having them do chores because I’m impatient and don’t care about a 6 year old half ass doing anything around the house. I make them clean their room and straighten up their bath toys and bathroom and have found that the extent of my ability to have them remember to not just drop back packs in the sun room and kick shoes off just anywhere tops out at about a 50% efficacy.

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I think that referring to trying to get your kid in gifted and talented programs and stuff so that they stay challenged in school. Not calling the principal because the teacher gave your kid a bad score on an essay.

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4 minutes ago, NotActuallyALonghorn said:

I think that referring to trying to get your kid in gifted and talented programs and stuff so that they stay challenged in school. Not calling the principal because the teacher gave your kid a bad score on an essay.

One problem is that most public schools teach to the average kid in the class which is useless to the more intelligent children.  This is particularly an issue in elementary school where the pool is small and the separation by ability is more limited.  One reason attending the best school you can afford is beneficial is that the average student's ability is usually significantly higher than in a weaker school and, as a result, the work is more challenging.  

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Yeah there's a big difference between advocating for your kid and pestering the teacher about why junior failed his geography project.  I don't think they're recommending the latter.  

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Good list, and we did all 10. 

#7 to us meant keeping on top of what the kids were doing in their classes, encouraging them to not slack off and do what is expected of them. From my personal observation the lowest performing students were from slackly parented homes. Rarely saw those parents involved with their children’s education.

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47 minutes ago, futureman said:

#7 is bullshit and parents who do that are the worst.  the fucking worst.  

They can be, but you're taking the worst case scenarios of helicopter parents/moms

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  • Don't nerf their world.  Helpless children become asshole adults.
  • Put them in situations where they can fail.  And win.  On their own merits.
  • Teach them to take responsibility for their actions.  Hold them accountable.
  • Don't tell them.  Show them.  You want to raise a savage.  Be a savage.
  • Teach them about money.  How to cook.  How to clean.  
  • Get them in sports, or some measure of physical exertion where they have to push themselves.  They either hit the wall now - and learn that they can deal with it.  Or later, and crack.  

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8 minutes ago, alincoln said:

One problem is that most public schools teach to the average kid in the class which is useless to the more intelligent children.  This is particularly an issue in elementary school where the pool is small and the separation by ability is more limited.  One reason attending the best school you can afford is beneficial is that the average student's ability is usually significantly higher than in a weaker school and, as a result, the work is more challenging.  

Absolutely true.  If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.  Kids trend in the general direction of the kids around them.  They will either be pulled up or pulled down by those around them, your choice.  

But there's a flip side too.  9 out of 10 kids who are struggling in school or being shitheads will have a parent who shirks responsibility for it by saying, "He's just too bored at school!"  I know there are some advanced kids who are legitimately bored at school but I think the vast majority of parents who say that are just making a lame excuse for their kid.  If that's your first reaction instead of open-mindedly looking at all other possibilities then you are just putting your head in the sand.  

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53 minutes ago, futureman said:

#7 is bullshit and parents who do that are the worst.  the fucking worst.  

Co-signed.  That's how you guarantee you raise an entitled little cunt.  Whenever I got in trouble at school, it was always 100% my fault at home, even if it wasn't.  I knew kids whose folks came in and argued in their favor every time they got in trouble.  They grew up to be assholes.

#1 is debatable, IMO.  Some of the most well rounded folks I know where guys who grew up in a tiny privileged neighborhood that was part of a dogshit school district.  They gained some incredible empathy and exceptional understanding of the real world by daily mingling with kids who were from a very disadvantaged background in a shitty school system.

The rest all make good sense.

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25 minutes ago, alincoln said:

One problem is that most public schools teach to the average kid in the class which is useless to the more intelligent children.  This is particularly an issue in elementary school where the pool is small and the separation by ability is more limited.  One reason attending the best school you can afford is beneficial is that the average student's ability is usually significantly higher than in a weaker school and, as a result, the work is more challenging.  

Correct.

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1 hour ago, Nice Guy Eddie said:

Speaking from experience, don’t take your kid to small town Texas because you think a safe environment is better.

Speaking from my experience, small town Texas was absolutely perfect for my kid.

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42 minutes ago, Beau Vine said:

Speaking from my experience, small town Texas was absolutely perfect for my kid.

everyone has a different path in life. Not to mention that there isn't a universal definition of success.  If its about income, then small town is the worst place to start these days. Now a 30 year old making a million per year in business can definitely start out in a town of 1,000 but that is more of an exception than the rule. And if that kid finds themselves the town of 1,000 they need to get out of there ASAP, if income is the goal. Get themselves to a zip code that can give them a great education/experience.

I'm not trying to turn this into a small-town-hate thread but just in agreement that where you raise your kid can strongly influence where they end up.

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Diablo Jr was an absolute wreck when I got him. He required a lot of my involvement with his teachers. I don't know if that's "advocating" but he would've been an even bigger shitshow without it.

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Parents being active, engaged, and working with their children's teachers is a great thing.

When I read "advocating for", it comes off as defending your child in school situations, and angling for special treatment.  That's a recipe for disaster.

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1 minute ago, Al_4_ISU said:

Parents being active, engaged, and working with their children's teachers is a great thing.

When I read "advocating for", it comes off as defending your child in school situations, and angling for special treatment.  That's a recipe for disaster.

Yep, advocating was a bad word choice.  Too lawyerly, and lawyerly parents suck.

Engaged and involved is better.

If you have a truly gifted child, a precocious one, it is true that the average curriculum, at even a good public school, will probably bore and fail to challenge them.  That doesn't mean they're not going to be successful, but it's not optimal.  May be becoming less true with all the AP courses and what must be the prerequisites for them.

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3 minutes ago, irishtexan said:

Cool. Another parenting lesson from Slorch. 

yeah, I wrote it bro.

It bugs ya, yet you clicked on it.   LOlz.  it ain't about me, yet you make it so.

Edited by Iceman

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1 hour ago, Al_4_ISU said:

Whenever I got in trouble at school, it was always 100% my fault at home, even if it wasn't.

Bingo.  My son had his first dose of middle school punishment a few weeks ago.  They had to spend a full period of OFIs (Opportunity for Improvement... which is an awesome term by the way).  That mean running lines, push ups, planks, etc.  It whooped his ass.  

It was the result of other kids raising hell in the locker room.  Everyone that was in there was punished.  He was lamenting the punishment to me that evening.  I told him to get used to it.  It won't be the last time you have to pay the price for others' actions. 

The one moral we've always harped on in that respect is "don't put yourself in a bad situation".  Sometimes you can control that, other times you can't, but you always have to be prepared to face the consequences, whatever they may be.  And, if you don't want to run gassers anymore, but a boot in someone else's ass so your whole team doesn't pay the price for their shit-headedness.

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On #7 my single/divorced mom was working full time, going to college and raising 3 children yet she was still as involved as she needed to be.

When the school really was giving me the shaft, based on a full investigation of all the facts on both sides, she came in like a hammer. When it was me being a little shit head, she told me exactly how and why I was being a shit head, and why I should burn with my shit head behavior.

"Life isn't fair, we are poor you'll have to plan and work harder than those with money.", was an important lesson both my otherwise largely absent father and PWT mom instilled in me. It tied in with losing is a part of life and how you respond to failure is more important than success itself. 

Which then promoted the notion of "You aren't entitled to shit but your freedom to earn what you want in life.".

Finally, the world is full of bullies, punch them in the nose. Let the chips fall where they may after. However, make sure you know the facts before on both sides, and be sure they are the bully and it's not you.

Now shut the fuck up, and do your chores and homework.

Edited by BurntEyes

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2 hours ago, futureman said:

#7 is bullshit and parents who do that are the worst.  the fucking worst.  

My oldest is dyslexic and advocacy was definitely required in elementary school to assure she was receiving the resources she was eligible for.    However, while it's definitely necessary for the parent to lead that fight when the child is young, you need to be teaching them to self-advocate by the time they reach middle school.  You can always be there for back up once they've hit a wall but it's important they speak up for themselves, hold teachers accountable, and attempt to resolve issues themselves.

 

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We did 1 2 5 and 8 for sure.  We probably did C- work on the rest.

The kids are alright.

All I really ask of them now is to help me with memes. 

And they say, Ok boomer, whatever that means.

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13 minutes ago, Spaulding Smails said:

Bingo.  My son had his first dose of middle school punishment a few weeks ago.  They had to spend a full period of OFIs (Opportunity for Improvement... which is an awesome term by the way).  That mean running lines, push ups, planks, etc.  It whooped his ass.  

It was the result of other kids raising hell in the locker room.  Everyone that was in there was punished.  He was lamenting the punishment to me that evening.  I told him to get used to it.  It won't be the last time you have to pay the price for others' actions. 

The one moral we've always harped on in that respect is "don't put yourself in a bad situation".  Sometimes you can control that, other times you can't, but you always have to be prepared to face the consequences, whatever they may be.  And, if you don't want to run gassers anymore, but a boot in someone else's ass so your whole team doesn't pay the price for their shit-headedness.

That's awesome.  Does your kid go to a private school?  I can't see that happening in modern public schools.

I remember the one time my old man took my side, and it was in private, after we left the school.

I had organized a game of full contact basketball at recess (was in 4th grade or so), and when the teacher who was supervising recess busted us, she made us all stand next to the outside wall of the trailers where the slower kids got sent for reading classes for the rest of recess.  On the way back into school she grabbed me by the ear and said "don't you ever call me a bitch again".  I got drug down to the principal's office and sent home for the day, even though I hadn't actually called her a bitch (was definitely thinking it).  My old man came and picked me up, and listened to the principal's explanation, nodded along and agreed, while I of course fervently defended myself.  Once we got in his pick up, he goes "I don't care if you called her bitch or not - sounds like she is".

Edited by Al_4_ISU

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7 minutes ago, CooterBrown said:

My oldest is dyslexic and advocacy was definitely required in elementary school to assure she was receiving the resources she was eligible for.    However, while it's definitely necessary for the parent to lead that fight when the child is young, you need to be teaching them to self-advocate by the time they reach middle school.  You can always be there for back up once they've hit a wall but it's important they speak up for themselves, hold teachers accountable, and attempt to resolve issues themselves.

 

ARD meetings are a different realm.  It's absolutely amazing what the range of responses is that one receives from different school districts.  Goes back to Point #1, but that does not always mean the most affluent is the best.

 

Edited by Iceman

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After looking up Boomer on Urban Dictionary, I came across Boober, the ride sharing app where the drivers are topless, and got pissed I hadn't thought of it already.

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11 minutes ago, LonghornJones said:

After looking up Boomer on Urban Dictionary, I came across Boober, the ride sharing app where the drivers are topless, and got pissed I hadn't thought of it already.

It’s not so great. I finally had to stop driving for them after a month not making any money. 

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29 minutes ago, tantric superman said:

11.  They white.

Yeah. It's clearly impossible to do well in school and succeed later in life if you're not white. 

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2 minutes ago, RoundRobin said:

It’s not so great. I finally had to stop driving for them after a month not making any money. 

Where to boys....

source.gif

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#4)  we could've done better with, he hardly mowed the yard or did other chores around the house.  He was good about keeping his room/bathroom cleaned. 

#7)  Don't recall ever having to go to his school for any issues.  He did get in trouble with a bus driver once over a picture he allegedly drew and she threatened him in some manner that we nipped in the bud, both with the driver and him.  

#8)  Pretty sure we never put any undo pressure on him about expectations.  We made sure he did what was expected of him in regards to school work and work in general.  

 

Safe to say we all want our kid(s) to be more successful than we've been, Jr. is more of a man than I've ever been and I couldn't be more proud of that fact.  Kid went through some rough spots physically/emotionally when he was young that I myself couldn't've handle at his age.  He loves his career as a PT, recently married and expecting a little one next spring.  

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I think advocating is the right word. If your kid isn't thriving in the school, then you need to find out why and change it. Many parents just accept the teacher or principal as some authority figure that they can't push back against. Screw that, the principal works for you. Now I'm sure this can go wrong as well but it doesn't have to.

FYI, getting all As isn't necessary thriving.  Is your kid being challenged even up to the point of not getting that A. I know its easy to get into the trap of wanting the easiest path for them into their college of choice but that shouldn't actually be the main goal in middle or high school.  Pushing someone to their limits will ultimately get them further. 

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I pretty much agree with Eddie.  I need to dial my wife back regarding your 2nd paragraph above.  He's in 6th grade and she has said things to him like, "you need straight As to get into Texas."  He qualified for TAG (talented and gifted) early in elementary and has been plenty challenged along the way.  My daughter (4th grade) just missed the qualifications, so she has been at the top level of students that aren't getting pulled out of the regular class for TAG.  She is the one we have had to "advocate" more for and ask her teachers to help us keep her more engaged and not get bored.

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1 hour ago, tantric superman said:

We did 1 2 5 and 8 for sure.  We probably did C- work on the rest.

The kids are alright.

All I really ask of them now is to help me with memes. 

And they say, Ok boomer, whatever that means.

Your kids think you are a Sooner?  Huge parenting fail.

Edited by clapclapclap

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Biggest thing:  DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS GO TO PRIVATE HIGH SCHOOLS (Hell yes I'm yelling).  The biggest cluster of self entitled assholes I've ever seen in my entire life have been private school fucks. We have 3 really strong private schools $20k a year I believe ( Russell Wilson attended one of them, he's one of those exceptions to the asshole rule however).  There are two publics our county feeds into that can kick their asses academically, and economically.

Get them in the best public school system you can that has specialty schools, and AP class availability, and track records of getting kids into the best state and nationally ranked schools.  We're extremely fortunate in our county to have great, great schools.

 

Edited by Onboard 2.0

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Number one sounds like they want you to move your kids away from poor brown people. 
 

Smh. Bunch of yuppie racist 

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3 minutes ago, Xian said:

Number one sounds like they want you to move your kids away from poor brown people. 
 

Smh. Bunch of yuppie racist 

Poor any color people.  Stupidity knows no color barriers.

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22 minutes ago, Onboard 2.0 said:

Biggest thing:  DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS (Hell yes I'm yelling).  The biggest cluster of self entitled assholes I've ever seen in my entire life have been private school fucks. We have 3 really strong private schools $20k a year I believe ( Russell Wilson attended one of them, he's one of those exceptions to the asshole rule however).  There are two publics our county feeds into that can kick their asses academically, and economically.

Get them in the best public school system you can that has specialty schools, and AP class availability, and track records of getting kids into the best state and nationally ranked schools.  We're extremely fortunate in our county to have great, great schools.

 

I disagree. Biting the bullet and cutting the check for a private christian school has been the best things for the kids. They are around people who at least pay lipservice to being vested in their education, class sizes are smaller, and I've seen a lot more academic rigor and growth. And I lived in a tony area just for the public school district and was unimpressed. I think someone on here said it best; "public education is like a slow moving train (and some trains move faster than others depending on the district) in that it has to keep moving at a level where within a standard deviation of the general public can hop on or hop off without getting left behind".

Edited by Rougarou

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4 minutes ago, Rougarou said:

I disagree. Biting the bullet and cutting the check for a private christian school has been the best things for the kids. They are around people who at least pay lipservice to being vested in their education, class sizes are smaller, and I've seen a lot more academic rigor and growth. And I lived in a tony area just for the public school district and was unimpressed. I think someone on here said it best; "public education is like a slow moving train (and some trains move faster than others depending on the district) in that it has to keep moving at a level where a standard deviation of the general public can hop on or hop off without getting left behind".

Obviously there are exceptions ,and Christian private schools tend not to harbor the afore mentioned wealthy, entitled, assholes nearly as much. I did my stint in Catholic schools, and the kids there were mostly middle class with some wealthier kids, but generally normal kids.

And again, it's all about where you live, and the availability of good publics. The specialty schools in our county usually put kids in to college as second semester freshmen, cha-thing on less tuition !!!

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