There comes a time in some people’s lives when their aspirations for their children begin to rival or even exceed their aspirations for themselves.
It’s happened to me since I’ve become a parent myself. As a result, I’ve been on a years-long mission to collect as much science-based advice as possible regarding how to raise successful kids.
Here are five of the most interesting and useful strategies I’ve found and highlighted recently. The science suggests that if you want to do right by your kids, you should probably do these things.
1. Make them do chores.
Researchers at La Trobe University in Australia recently set out to determine whether children who do chores at home would develop better working memory, inhibition, and other success-predicting behaviors.
They broke chores into three categories: self-care, other care, and pet care. Writing in the peer-reviewed Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, they said their studies showed that kids who did self-care and other-care chores were in fact more likely to exhibit better academic performances and problem-solving skills.
But pet-care chores did nothing either way for the kids’ later development.
Why not? Maybe it’s because pet care chores aren’t as strenuous as other chores, or maybe because the kids didn’t really view the kinds of things you have to do to take care of a pet dog (walk it, feed it, etc.) to be work.
The bottom line, however? Make your kids do chores. They might not love the idea to start with, but you’ve got science on your side.
2. Teach them to be polite.
This one focuses on three specific words: please, thank you, and you’re welcome.
Teaching kids to say “please” when they ask for something can reinforce their tendency to be polite, which makes them more persuasive when they’re older. Teaching them to say “thank you” habitually encourages gratitude, which stimulates happiness and makes stress easier to deal with.
And teaching them to say “you’re welcome” reinforces confidence by emphasizing that the things they do for others are worthy of thanks. (This is especially true when you juxtapose “you’re welcome” with other things people say in response to “thank you,” like “no worries!” or “no problem!”)
3. Work on their emotional intelligence.
Children who develop emotional intelligence also develop “a higher chance of graduating, getting a good job, and just being happy,” according to Rachael Katz and Helen Shwe Hadani, authors of The Emotionally Intelligent Child: Effective Strategies for Parenting Self-Aware, Cooperative, and Well-Balanced Kids.
There are many things you can do to develop emotional intelligence (many more listed here), but at the outset, model your good thinking and use of emotions for them, ask them for their ideas, and try not to judge.
Oh, and remember that kids are just that: kids. It’s unfair often to expect them to react and respond to things like adults would (or at least, should!).
4. Steer them toward video games.
Wait, what? Tell them to play video games?
Yes, indeed. A new study out of Europe that used a “massive” amount of data determined that kids who spend an above-average amount of time playing them wind up with higher IQs than kids who spend their screen time watching videos or scrolling through social media.
Kids today spent a massive amount of time glued to screens, on average. This study of 5,000 children at least suggests that if they’re going to be using screens that much, the higher the percentage of that time they spend on video games, the better.
5. Help them figure out their passion(s).
This study was fascinating. Researchers in Scandinavia wanted to determine whether passion, grit, or mindset was the most important factor in predicting young people’s success, specifically in an athletic context.
In short, passion turned out to be far more predictive of whether kids were successful; while mindset and grit might have predicted that young people would continue attempting to succeed, it was passion that best predicted whether they actually would.
“For people who are the best of the best in their field, passion is absolutely the biggest factor. It’s the essential key to success,” one researcher said.
So, when kids are kids, let them explore different things to determine the ones that they’re truly passionate about. That’s where they’re most likely to become the absolute best in their field.
Look, no matter what any of us does as entrepreneurs, chances are our kids will be a very big part of our legacies.
That’s why I’m so drawn into these little hacks, and it’s why I’ve compiled an entire free e-book full of similar tips and tricks: How to Raise Successful Kids (7th Edition).
There’s always another study with another interesting bit of information to consider. I read and share as many as I can, so you don’t have to look for them.