Of course you want your children to grow up to be happy, healthy and prosperous. But if you look around at the rest of the humans in your periphery, clearly these are states that not everyone attains. Want to increase the chances that your kids are successful? Check out the things the parents of high-achieving children do differently, according to experts.
They don't stalk young adults
It sounds weird, but it's a common behavior considering the ubiquity of apps like Life360 and tools such as Find my iPhone and Snapchat's Snap Map. While it might seem OK to keep tabs on kids and teens while they're living under your roof and needing to abide by your rules, lots of parents track their children even once they move out. But researchers at Florida State University found a correlation between helicopter parenting -- excessively monitoring offspring and removing obstacles from their paths -- and lower self-control among young adults who have gone off to college. They believe it's because hovering parents give their kids fewer opportunities to practice self-discipline when it comes to managing their emotions and behaviors.
They teach kids to work
All good parents want their kids to be happy, and fortunately happiness is a topic which has been widely examined by researchers. Health and science writer Markham Heid lays out several studies which have found that the aspects of life through which humans get the longest-lasting and strongest pleasure are usually those that involve effort. One found that while expending effort lowers happiness at the time, feelings of satisfaction and happiness increase when people reflect on how they spent their time doing worthwhile tasks. Another found that actively working toward a goal bumps up feelings of accomplishment, perseverance and mastery, all of which are linked with greater well-being. And on the flip side, researchers have also found that people who don't want to put forth effort to go after personal rewards tend to be more depressed.
They discuss their child's strengths
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed how often parents and adolescents talk about strengths and weaknesses, as well as how well the adults and teens communicate, how much the kid discloses and the closeness of the relationship. It turns out that talking about the teen's strengths all positively affects those things, whereas not discussing strengths resulted in worse outcomes on those measures.
They role model honesty
Researchers conducted a study of more than 200 children between five and eight years old who were told they could win a prize if they correctly answered four multiple choice questions. The first three questions had obvious answers, such as "honey" for "What kind of sweet liquid do bees make?" The fourth question was a trick, though, and asked them for the capital city of a made-up country. Before the kids answered, the researcher left the room to get something she forgot, instructing the kids not to flip the card in front of them which had the answers on the back. More than half -- 61 percent -- of the kids cheated by looking, and of them 85 percent lied when asked if they peeked. However, before playing the game the researchers pretended to either lie or tell the truth about breaking something, and then modeled the consequences in either a positive or negative manner. It turns out that the kids who saw the researcher have a positive experience after confessing a truth or a negative experience after lying were more likely to tell the truth.
They read to them really early
Researchers studied 1,772 kids at ages one and later at age three, identifying the ones with mothers who read to them daily (31 percent) as well as the ones who were genetically predisposed to learning problems. It turns out that the kids who were read to early in life had higher vocabularies at age three. This was true even the ones vulnerable to developmental delays -- they scored as well as kids not at a genetic disadvantage.