Give your child the best career start now, for later life

Give your child the best career start now, for later life

According to a US publication ‘Business Insider’, there is a science to producing successful children.

Most responsible parents want their kids to keep out of trouble, do well at school and have great careers.

Now psychology research has identified a number of key factors that help predict success. Much of it comes down to the parents and how they bring their kids up.

My parents made me do chores so I could earn pocket money. I had to set aside money to buy my parents and siblings birthday and Christmas presents which taught me to save and be generous as well as that you had to work hard to get paid. It also gave me appreciation of money from an early age as I had earnt it rather than simply had hand-outs.

I had to be thankful for the meals I was given and would have to say ‘thank you’ at the end of the meal and ‘please could I leave the table’. All good discipline and manners.

So, it is interesting to learn that the 13 key points to helping a child be successful later in life that Psychologists have identified are as follows:

1. ‘THE CHILDREN HAVE TO DO CHORES’, Julie Lythcott-Haims, a Former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University, USA and Author of ‘How To Raise An Adult’, said during a TED Talk live event. ‘If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them. And so they’re absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each of us must contribute for the betterment of the whole’.

She believes kids raised on chores go on to become better employees. Ones who collaborate well with their co-workers and are more empathetic because they know first-hand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

‘By making them do chores – take out the garbage, doing their own laundry – they realise ‘I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life’.


2. PARENTS – ‘THEY HAVE TO HAVE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER’. Children in families where there is a lot of argument, whether intact or divorced, tend to fare worse than ones whose parents get along. A study done by the University of Illinois, USA found this out and that children in non-conflict single parent families fare better than children in conflicting two parent families.

The conflict between parents before a divorce has a negative effect, and post-divorce conflict has a strong influence on a child’s adjustment. Also, a study found that if a Father without custody has frequent contact with his children after a divorce and there is little conflict – children do better. However, if there are confrontations between parents and frequent visits from the Father – it results in poorer adjustment of the children.

However, another study found that people over 20 years of age who had experienced their parents divorcing as children, still report pain and upset over their parents split 10 years later. Young people who experienced high conflict between parents are more likely to feel a sense of regret and loss.


3. ‘PARENTS TEACH THEIR CHILDREN SOCIAL SKILLS’. Pennsylvannia State University and Duke University, USA, monitored over 700 children from across the country between kindergarten age and 25 years old. They found a significant link between their social skills at kindergarten and their success as adults 20 years later. The study showed that children who were socially competent and could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understood their feelings and resolved problems on their own – were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by the age of 25 than those with limited social skills. Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking and applying for public housing. The Study shows that by helping children develop emotional and social skills is one of the most important things a parent can do to ensure them a healthy, productive future. From an early age these simple skills can determine whether a child goes to prison or to college and whether they end up employed or addicted. So, in my view, this is all the more reason to not allow them to spend all their spare time on their computers doing games or on the phone. Far better to get them to play outside and socialise with friends. Join after school clubs, become a member of school sports teams. When I was a child I joined the Brownies. So, the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Girl Guides are all good ways for children to learn skills and socialise.


4. ‘THEY HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS’. A National Survey of 6,600 children born in 2001 conducted by the University of California, USA – discovered that parent’s expectations held for their kids had a huge impact on their attainment. Neil Halfon, Professor of UCLA said ‘Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward their goal irrespective of their income and other assets. In standardized tests it was found that 57% of the children who did worst were not expected to attend college by their parents but those that did best were expected to go. This mimics the Psychologists’ finding: The Pygmalion Effect, which states ‘that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy’. In the case of children – they live up to their parents’ expectations of them.


5. ‘PARENTS DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR KIDS’. In 2014 a study by the University of Minnesota of 243 people born into poverty – those who received a caring, sensitive up-bringing in the first 3 years not only did better at school in exams but also had healthier relationships and greater academic attainment in their 30s.

It was reported in a Psychology blog of the benefits when Parents are sensitive caregivers ‘respond to their child’s signals promptly and appropriately’ and ‘provide a secure base’ for children to explore the world. ‘This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives’ – Lee Raby, Psychologist at the University of Minnesota, USA.


6. ‘THEY TEACH THEIR KIDS MATHS EARLY ON’. It was found from a study in 2007 of 35,000 pre-schoolers across England, Canada and the USA that developing maths skills early on can turn into a big advantage. Greg Duncan, Researcher of Northwestern University said ‘The paramount importance of early maths skills – of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order and other rudimentary math concepts – is one of the puzzles coming out of the study. Mastery of early maths skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.’


7. ‘PARENTS WHO HAVE ATTAINED HIGHER EDUCATIONAL LEVELS’ has an impact. In 2014 a study by the University of Michigan, USA, lead by Psychologist, Sandra Tang, found that mothers who completed their schooling and went onto College were more likely to raise children who would also go onto further education. Of a study of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten between 1998 to 2007 – it found that children born to Teen Mums (18yrs or younger) were less likely to finish Secondary School or go to College than their counterparts. Aspiration is partly responsible. Eric Dubow, a psychologist found that ‘a parents educational level when a child was 8 years old significantly predicted educational and occupational success for the child 40 years later’.


8. ‘THEY VALUE EFFORT OVER AVOIDING FAILURE’. Where kids think their success comes from – also predicts their achievement and getting their goal. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, over decades discovered that both adults and children think about success in 2 ways. Maria Popova of ‘Brain Pickings’ concluded: A Fixed Mindset – Assumes that our character, intelligence and creative ability are static givens that we cannot change in any real way, and that success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against the equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining a sense of being smart of skilled. A Growth Mindset -Thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as the heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. At the core is a distinction in the way you assume your will affects your ability and it has a powerful effect on children. If children are told they did brilliantly in a test because they are bright, that creates a ‘fixed’ mindset. However, if they succeeded because of effort, that teaches a ‘growth’ mindset. Growth is best!


9. ‘IF CHILDREN ARE LESS STRESSED’. The Washington Post, a leading US newspaper concluded after a study, that the number of hours a mother spends with her children aged between 3-11yrs does little to predict a child’s behaviour, achievement or well-being. However, interestingly, the more intensive mothering or ‘helicopter’ parenting can backfire. Sociologist, Kei Nomaguchi told the newspaper that ‘a Mothers’ stress, – especially when mothers are stressed because of juggling with work and trying to find time to be with the kids – that may actually be affecting their kids poorly’. Emotional contagion – the psychological phenomenon where people ‘catch’ feelings from one another like they would a cold – helps to explain why. Research shows that if a friend is happy – their brightness will affect you. If sad then this affects you too. So, if a child has an exhausted, stressed and frustrated parent – this can transfer to a child.


10. ‘THEY HAVE HIGHER SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS’. Sadly, one fifth of children in the USA grow up in poverty. So, like in the US, in the UK if a child is brought up in poverty it affects how they do in life and limits their potential. Therefore, it is very important that children in this environment are aided by a parent implementing what is listed in this article – IT WILL HELP THEM ACHIEVE DESPITE THIS! The achievement gap between high-low income families is roughly 30% – 40% larger among kids born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier. The higher the income of the parents, the higher the exam scores of the kids. Better schooling and input of the parents is crucial. However, there are plenty of kids from affluent families who do not achieve success in later life, despite having advantages. They are spoilt by their parents, lack drive and are lazy despite being given a good education. The good news is there are also children from poor backgrounds whose parent implement many of the points in this article and encourage their children to work hard and believe in themselves, who achieve success.


11. ‘THEY ARE AUTHORITATIVE RATHER THAN AUTHORITARIAN OR PERMISSIVE’. In the 1960s the University of California found there were 3 basic kinds of parenting:

  • Permissive – The parent tries not to punish and are easy going and accepting of their child’s behaviour
  • Authoritarian – The parent tries to control and shape the child based on a certain way of conduct. Normally standards and ways of behaviour – as was taught by their parents with them
  • Authoritative – The parent tries to direct the child rationally. The ideal is Authoritative. The child grows up with a respect for authority, but does not feel strangled by it


12. ‘THE MOTHERS WORK’. Harvard Business School has found that there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home. They found that daughters of working mothers went to school for longer and were more likely to achieve a more senior, supervisory role in their career, hence earning more. 23% more money than their peers raised by stay at home mothers. Interestingly, the sons of working mothers also tended to become more helpful and partake in more chores at home and childcare. They spent 7 ½ more hours a week on childcare and 25 more minutes on housework. This is a study not a criticism of stay at home mother. Interesting findings though….


13. ‘THEY TEACH THEIR KIDS PERSEVERENCE AND GRIT’. Psychologist, Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania, USA, uncovered a personality trait that helps achieve success. GRIT. It is defined as: a tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. She has also correlated grit with attaining success in studies. People who do not drop out of college despite it being tough at times – they persevere. So, this is about teaching children to imagine success – to commit to achieving it and doing the hard work that is needed to attain the goal and the future they want to create for themselves.