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Parenting 101
10 Things Smart Parents Must Do to Raise Successful Kids, According to Science
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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How do you raise successful kids in a world that's riddled with toxic temptations, greed and discrimination? I'm a firm believer in the good in this world, but I don't blame the many parents, soon-to-be parents and want-to-be parents who are nervous about bringing children into this world and raising them to be successful in it, despite the many odds against them.

Fortunately, there's a wealth of science that suggests some surefire ways to raise successful children. It's important to note, however, that success looks different for everyone. And, regardless of what science says, love, health and happiness prevail. So if success to you means that your child grows up to become a kind, caring adult, even if they don't land a high-paying job or get married and buy a house, that's success. If success to you means that your child does grow up to buy their own home and earn a lot of money, that's success, too.

Success is subjective.

And, with that in mind, here are 10 ways to achieve it.

10 ways to raise successful kids

Here are 10 ways to raise successful kids, according to science.

1. They put their children in sports.

Sports are a big determinant of a child's success. Research suggests that kids who engage in sports learn the ropes of the real world early on. That's because they learn teamwork and empathy. In fact, there's a correlation between a child’s attention span and level of self-control and their participation in organized, after-school sports, according to a recent study led by Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital. 

“There is something specific to the sporting environment – perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team to a special group with a common goal – that appears to help kids understand the importance of respecting the rules and honoring responsibilities,” Pagani reportedly said, according to a news release.

2. They introduce their children to music.

Music education has a whole host of benefits on children. Research suggests that it can help develop kids' language and reasoning skills, it can boost their memory and coordination skills, and it helps kids to stay more engaged in school and have a sense of achievement.

3. They allow their children to get artsy.

Art education can also help children find success. In fact, a 2002 report by the Arts Education Partnership found that children who were exposed to drama, music and dance were often more proficient at reading, writing and math, as well. Another 2006 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum study suggests that there's a link between art education and improved literacy skills. In 2009, The Center for Arts Education published a report that suggests an arts education can improve graduation rates. And, in 2011, a study called "Reinvesting in Arts Education" found that integrating arts with other subjects can help kids to achieve more.

4. They let their kids make mistakes.

Wondering, 'How do I make my child rich?' You let them make mistakes, without overcorrecting or overprotecting them, according to science. In her TED Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims argues that helicopter parenting can have adverse effects. Rather, she argues that parents should allow their kids to make mistakes in order to develop both resilience and resourcefulness. This, of course, can help to set them up for success as adults.

5. They teach their children social skills.

According to a 20-year study by researchers at Pennsylvania State and Duke University, there's a positive correlation between a child's social skills in kindergarten and their success later in life. Teaching social skills like communication, empathy, collaboration and more at a young age can help kids to survive and thrive in the real world as young adults.

6. They read to their children early on.

Research from the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests that reading books to a child beginning in their early infancy can boost their vocabulary and reading skills four years later, even before the start of elementary school.

7. They teach their children math early on.

According to a study titled, "School Readiness and Later Achievements," teaching children math early on helps to prepare them for school and later-in-life achievements. This is true of both boys and girls and from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds.

8. They set high expectations for their children.

How do you raise a successful and happy child? You set high expectations for their success and happiness, according to science. That's right, a UCLA team found that, when parents have high expectations for their children, it can have a huge effect on their achievements. Specifically, by the time the studied children were just four years old, those in the highest-performing study group had parents who had expected them to eventually attain college degrees.

9. They give their children chores.

Chores teach responsibility at a young age. So it's no surprise that a University of Minnesota analysis of date found that a major predictor of a young adult's success is whether or not they had performed chores as young as three or four years old.

10. They're present with their children.

Research suggests that, when parents are addicted to their phones and social media, their children can feel unimportant. Those who have the attention of their parents, however, feel important and, therefore, are probably more likely to go on an achieve more things of importance. Besides that, kids tend to follow on their parents' footsteps; and if parents are always glued to their phones, children might follow suit.

“With our kids picking up mobile devices at an increasingly younger age, it is really important that we set good habits within the home, early on,” Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies said in a press release. “Children take their cues from us for everything else, so it is only natural that they should do the same with device use. It can be hard to step away from your device at home; but with a quarter of parents telling us that they wished their child used their device less (25 percent), they need to lead by example and consider how their behavior might be making their child feel.”

How can I be a successful parent?

Being a successful parent means something different to everyone. Of course, success is subjective. But if you follow what the aforementioned parents are doing, you're sure to be a more successful parent. Just remember that you and your child's happiness and health are the most important — if your family is happy and healthy, that's success in and of itself.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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