When it comes to raising a healthy, successful child, you may feel like more is better — education, time together, sports, hobbies and activities. But what if the key to raising a thriving child came down to encouraging a few basic traits?
(via Yahoo) The old adage, “parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have” is undoubtedly true. In between keeping a child safe, happy and thriving, parents put in extra effort to ensure their child is successful by exposing them to culture, language, arts, education, and physical and social activities.
While those aspects of childhood and life can be highly beneficial, they can also lead to demanding schedules, stress and burnout.
But take solace in this: Teaching your children to be successful as an adult may be easier than you might think. In fact, a recent study shows success can be as simple as encouraging sharing, cooperation and kindness at an early age.
The Success Study: Starts in Kindergarten
The study started in the early 1990s with researchers watching 753 kindergartners. The boys and girls were rated by their teachers on these skills: Sharing, listening to others and being helpful.
Over the next 20 years, the researchers noted positive and negative milestones for each kid – such as graduating from high school and college, substance abuse issues and run-ins with police.
The Results? Social Skills Score High for Success
The kids who rated the highest on social skills including sharing and cooperating in kindergarten were up to four times more likely to “stay on the straight and narrow” by the time they turned 25.
“For every one-point change on the one-to-five scale (in kindergarten), the kids doubled their chances of being successful,” Lead Researcher Damon Jones says.
The researchers say this shows that social skills are just as important as intelligence when it comes to future success and they hope educators will begin to emphasize cooperation and sharing at every age.
How You Can Encourage Your Child
Child development experts agree – it’s never too late for parents to put these skills center stage. Here are a couple of easy ways to demonstrate them to your child:
- Be a role model: Show your child how to be kind, compassionate and cooperative with your own actions. Try to emphasize sharing and working together with your spouse or friends in front of your children.
- Recognize kindness in your child: When your kids show kindness to a friend or offer to share toys during a playdate, praise them.
Child and family psychotherapist, Fran Walfish recommends instead of simply saying, “good job,” tell them “you must feel really good about yourself for sharing.” Fran also says, “this sends the message that sharing is important not because it pleases you but because the behavior itself is so rewarding.”