All good parents want their kids to succeed, but if you look around at the general population, clearly not everybody ends up being a high achiever. Want some advice on how to give your children an edge? Here are several things parents of successful kids do differently.

They let their kids fail

What used to be called "helicopter parenting" -- constantly hovering over every aspect of a child's life -- has evolved into what some experts now call "snowplow parenting." It's when parents obsess over ways to prevent their kids from failing. Prime example: Actress Felicity Huffman and other wealthy parents recently accused of collectively paying millions of dollars to have test scores and other achievements of their prodigy covertly amplified so as to gain admission into elite universities.

Yet plowing through one's own problems and pushing through frustration are valuable life skills which help kids grow into resilient adults. It can be difficult for parents to let offspring pave their own way, however. According to a recent nationwide poll of parents of children 18 to 28 years old, three-quarters have reminded their adult children about school deadlines, 16 percent have called or texted them to wake them up, and eight percent have contacted a college professor or administrator about a grade or other problem. But this kind of intervention isn't good for anyone. Be a good parent and let your kids fail and learn from the experience.

They foster an understanding that kids can control their destiny

It's called having an internal locus of control, which is believing that your actions matter and you can do things to affect your success. Opposite of that, having an external locus of control, involves thinking that you're a victim of circumstances or fate, a mindset associated with anxiety and a feeling of not being in charge of one's life. Researchers have found that kids who show an internal locus of control by age 10 are less likely to be overweight as adults and less likely to rate their health as poor or have high levels of stress. Parents can help their kids develop an internal locus of control by showing kids how their actions have consequences as well as supporting their independence.

They model accountability

Kids who grow up believing their choices have consequences, either good or bad, are more apt to succeed in life because they're able to learn from their mistakes and be proactive about taking steps to improve their situation. But experts believe that talking to kids about this concept isn't nearly as powerful as when parents practice accountability themselves. It means admitting when you've screwed up yourself, apologizing and making reparations when appropriate.

They teach social skills

Researchers have found a correlation between kids' social skills in kindergarten and their future success. Kids better at resolving problems with peers, listening, sharing, cooperating, and being helpful are significantly more likely to earn a college degree in early adulthood, graduate from high school, and have a full-time job at age 25. Children less adept at those skills have a higher rate of having been in juvenile detention, being arrested, binge drinking, using marijuana and living in public housing.

Published on: Apr 7, 2019
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