Parenting is a difficult job and nobody does it perfectly. Yet, there are things you can do to give your kids an edge so they grow up to have their acts together and feel good about their lives. Here’s what researchers have found parents of successful kids do differently.

They talk to their kids more

Researchers at Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the brain activity of three dozen children between the ages of four and six. They also listened to audio recordings from the children’s homes to measure the amount of conversation between the kids and their caregivers. It turns out that the children whose caregivers had more back-and-forth conversations with them also demonstrated more activation in the Broca’s Area of the brain - the part involved in language processing. This is important because the ability to listen and speak is highly correlated with success. In fact, employers consistently rate communication skill as the asset they look for most in candidates.

They make kids shut down devices at night

Sleep deprivation negatively affects brain function, memory, ability to learn, immune system function, hormone levels and increases a person’s chance of depression, anxiety, obesity and death. And researchers have found that electronic device usage -- especially in the hour before bedtime -- has a lot to do with the fact that kids generally aren’t getting enough sleep. In a study of 6,616 adolescents, nearly three quarters (71.5 percent), reported using a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or TV at night. It’s not a good thing, considering researchers have linked this behavior with poorer quality and shorter duration of sleep, as well as lower levels of health-related quality of life.

They teach them spirituality

Harvard researchers studied longitudinal data regarding the health and welfare of more than 5,600 young people. They found a link between weekly attendance of religious services and higher life satisfaction, less cigarette and drug use, fewer symptoms of depression, later sexual initiation and fewer sexual partners. They also determined it’s not just organized religion which helps kids -- the study authors found similar results in kids who prayed or meditated regularly.

They listen to music with their kids

According to a study conducted at the University of Arizona, kids -- especially teenagers -- who shared musical experiences with their parents reported having better relationships with their mothers and fathers as young adults. While going to concerts or playing instruments together counts, so does merely listening to music in the car. Part of it has to do with the emotions which music evokes, a phenomenon which creates empathy for the people sharing in the experience.

They exhibit an “internal locus of control”

It’s psychological-speak for believing that your actions matter and you yourself control your destiny. The opposite, having an external locus of control, is when a person feels they are powerless to change their lives, and it’s a way of thinking which generally leads to lower levels of achievement in life. And when it comes to parenting and how your kids turn out, an internal locus of control is associated with kids who do better in several ways. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, parents with an internal locus of control are more persistent and structured, compared with those with an external locus of control. As such, they tend to raise kids who throw fewer temper tantrums, sleep better and overeat less.