Secret of raising successful kids
How to raise successful kids? The question that generates pages and pages of answers in the google search engine is a mind boggling question. Because your definition of success, may not be the same as mine as our journeys are not the same. Just like the definition of happiness, the definition of success is ambiguous. The word ‘Successful’, with its wide range of subjectivity is a used and misused term. As a mother, I always question myself if I am doing the right thing for my children. Am I providing the right amount of stimulation, extra curricular activities and age appropriate books? At the same time, in order to finish editing my post, I am letting my 2 year old watch dinosaurs on the television. I am guilt laden because I know that screen is not the right kind of stimulation for my son. But I carried on regardless of my guilt kicking in. Just like me, do you question your parenting?
I remember seeing a youtube video which talked about the key to health and happiness. You may have read or seen the video as well on ‘The Harvard’s Grant study‘. It followed 268 Harvard students for more than 70 years and concluded that the secret to health and happiness is ‘close relationships’. Despite its constraints (all Harvard, all white, all male), it shows some of the clearest evidence yet on what makes a truly happy life. While on the topic, I searched for other studies on the internet. I was excited to know that there has been another study continued over 50 years in Britain known as the cohort studies which has a far more magnitude than the Grant Study.
In the first Cohort studies, right after the second world war, scientists and researchers in the UK studied the conditions of around 14,000 mothers. Researchers analysed the lives of thousands of babies from birth through life in great detail, from records of birth weights and ages of weaning to reading skills and employment in later life The UK has launched five such studies since 1946, which meant around 70,000 kids were involved in the project. You can imagine the enormity of data collection and analysis involved.
What was the inference of these studies? Where does it lead us to? Was there any conclusion or breakthrough in the search of the ingredients of a better quality of life? The good news is, there is hope! Author, science journalist and communicator, Helen Pearson has made a few observations which leads us to an impactful conclusion She has explained her experiences of writing her book, The Life project , on the cohort studies. The inferences drawn from the studies as a mother and a scientist are relatable.
To find those answers on parenting, I googled my way to these studies and what does over 50 years of research say about being a good parent and raising successful kids?
Shall I tell you the good news or the bad news first? Pearson’s first inference makes me sad and its quite depressing. According to the study, if at all possible, try not be born poor. I chose to ignore it because let’s face it, we can’t choose our parents. Period.
I would like to talk about Pearson’s second takeaway which gives me hope. It says, ‘Parenting matters’. Researchers and scientists are able to sieve out some good practices of parental behaviour which enables kids’ success and aid them to do well. It makes me happy that all these practices are practical and within our reach, regardless of our circumstances. Thankfully, you don’t need to bring any science to it. Contrary to our beliefs, parenting is a lot less complicated phenomenon.
Parenting is not complicated and being a decent parent is simpler than our beliefs
In her TED talk, Pearson outlines a selection of parental behaviours which are linked to better and improved results. No research is completely accurate. However, these practices of parental behaviour can get as close as possible in giving you the desired outcomes.
- Being emotionally available
- Communicating with your kids (talking to and listening)
- Letting them know that you have high expectations from them (ambitions)
- Reading to them and inculcating the habit of reading for pleasure
- Taking them outdoors
- Teaching them letters and numbers
- To have a regular bedtime
- Deep connections
If I have to sum up these observations of parental behaviour, it would come down to giving time and attention to our children.
This is it? All the research has boiled down to these things that we already know? These are the essential points. But don’t you think that in the fast – paced world of ours, quality time with our kids tend to get lost in the commute to the extra curricular activities? You schedule your time to organise ‘quality time’ which is lost in getting to the venue. Isn’t it? As Paulo Coelho in the book Alchemist says, “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” Parenting will be extraordinary if we follow these simple practices.
The crux of these studies is to get down to the basics, to maintain these practices on a daily basis.
The best thing that you can gift your child is your time and attention. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to take your kids to fancy clubs instead spend quiet moments with them. Read books or show them pictures. Share a laugh and listen to them.
I need to execute it now by switching off those dinosaurs screaming on my television screen.
Hope you liked going through the post. If you agree/disagree or have any other points to share, please leave a comment. I would love to know more.