Your children are the people in this world who you most want to be happy, healthy and successful. And like it or not, your behavior as a parent has a lot to do with it. Here's what researchers say the parents of high-achieving kids do differently.
They don't lie
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, lying to kids -- even bluffs of punishment -- results in children growing up to be liars themselves and having other problems, as well. Researchers queried 379 young adults about how much their parents lied to them when they were children and what behaviors they practice now that they're grown up. Individuals who recall being lied to more as children were also more likely to admit lying to their parents as adults. They also reported having a harder time dealing with psychological and social challenges, indicating having experienced behavioral problems, guilt and shame, as well as engaging in selfish and manipulative conduct.
They speak with a certain tone of voice
Most parents would agree that life would be easier for everyone if children would always listen to their parents, do what they request and follow their advice. But according to research conducted at Cardiff University in the U.K., an adult's tone of voice has a lot to do with compliance. In the study, more than 1,000 teenagers were put into groups in which they all heard the same 30 messages voiced by mothers regarding schoolwork, but delivered with different intonations: controlling, autonomy-supportive or neutral. Afterward, the students answered surveys regarding how they would feel if their own mother communicated as the one in their group had. Almost across the board, teens who listened to the mother speaking in a controlling manner responded negatively. The kids who heard the mother speaking in a supportive way responded positively, and more so than the ones who heard a neutral tone of voice. So, if you want your kids to do what you say, don't say it like you're their boss.
They have conversations with kids
In a study published in Psychological Science, MIT researchers had children between the ages of four and six wear recorders for two days. They measured how many words a child spoke, how many words were spoken to a child, and how many times a child and adult made a "conversational turn," or a back-and-forth exchange of words. The researchers found that the kids who engaged in the most conversational turns also had the highest proficiency in vocabulary, grammar and verbal reasoning. They also exhibited higher activity in the Broca's area of the brain when listening to stories while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. The findings indicate that parents who want to positively affect their children's language and brain development should invest in having conversations with them.
They get kids involved in the arts
British researchers analyzed data regarding 6,209 children involved in the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study to see if there is a link between children's arts engagement such as listening to or playing music; drawing, painting, or making things; and reading for enjoyment and self‐esteem at age 11. It turns out that all three activities were associated with elevated levels of self‐esteem. This is important because self‐esteem is integral to kids' social and cognitive development and emotional health.
They don't overshare online
In a study titled "Civility, Safety and Interaction Online -- 2019," Microsoft polled teens ages 13 to 17 and adults ages 18 to 74 about their exposure to various online risks, altogether surveying 12,520 individuals in 2019. Forty-two percent of teens in 25 countries say they have a problem with their parents posting about them on social media. Of that number, 11 percent feel it's a big problem; 14 percent say it's of medium concern, and 17 percent think it's a small issue. What's more, 66 percent of of teens say they've been victim to at least one online risk, with the same percentage concerned that a negative online experience will happen to them in the future.
In a blog post, Microsoft cautions parents to resist posting information about kids including real full names, ages, birthdays, home addresses, mothers' maiden names, favorite sports teams and names of pets. Here's why:
On one hand, these individual tidbits of personally identifiable information can be misused in online social engineering schemes, culled together to make children and other young people the targets of online fraud or identity theft, or in extreme cases may even lead to online grooming. Indeed, young children and infants in particular are prime targets for credit fraud. If someone were to take out a line of credit in a child's name, odds are the child wouldn't discover it for more than a decade later - until they applied for their own credit cards or other loans. Meanwhile, online grooming takes place when someone builds an emotional connection with a child in order to gain the child's trust for sexual exploitation or abuse, or recruitment to terrorist or extremist causes.
Oversharing about kids on social media has become so prevalent, it actually has a name: Sharenting. Be good, and don't do it.