As parents, we want our children to grow up to be successful individuals. There are many factors that determine one’s success: having the right attitude which includes always believing that there is room for improvement, one’s success depends on one’s hard work and perseverance, being kind and able to forge good relationships with people.
Education starts from as young as preschool age. In this article, we provide you with important tips on how you can nurture your child to become a successful person as they grow up.
Teach your child social skills
While it is essential to develop academic skills in your child since young, parents must also teach their children social skills which is of equal importance.
Research by the Pennsylvania State University and Duke University has shown that social skills has to be nurtured in children from as young as pre-school as it will affect their social skills when they are adults. Children who are socially competent are more likely to earn a degree and a job by age 25 according to the 20-year study.
Therefore, parents should start nurturing social skills in their children since young so that they can be socially competent and successful in the future. Your child should be able to cooperate with other children without prompting, proactively help others, and have empathy towards others and the independence to solve issues on their own.
Set expectations for your child
Your child is a reflection of your expectations. According to a study conducted by the University of California, expectations parents hold for their kids have a large effect on the child’s attainment. Having a high expectation for your child can help him or her to improve and subsequently achieve greater success in the future. That said, parents should not set overly high expectations that may backfire.
This is because kids tend to live up to their parents’ expectations. Having higher expectations for your children also means you must show it through your actions. For example, parents can teach more difficult but manageable material to their children, which is encouraging and promising to them.
Having higher expectations also means believing that your child can achieve more, and that shows through providing your child with affirmation and warmth through actions such as nods, encouraging smiles and pats on their shoulder.
You should also give your child opportunity to contribute to their own learning, encourage them to ask questions and ask them questions as well. Children are also naturally curious about the things around them. This will help to build up their confidence in learning new things and nurture their passion to proactively learn about things around them.
Praise them appropriately
You should offer your child feedback on their performance that is more detailed and personalized instead of the usual good job. A generic “good job” is in fact a lazy and harmful praise. Firstly, as it is not specific, it does not tell your child what exactly he or she did well and without that, they do not know exactly what they should do in future to get the same outcome.
Secondly, “good job” focuses on the outcome instead of the process. It makes your child think that if they do not get the same results in future, it will not be a good job. By focusing on the outcome, they might get discouraged if they fail to hit their target instead of treating it as a learning experience to be better in the future. As such, they may be scared of failure and avoid difficulty.
Furthermore, praising your child for intelligence will cause them to equate failure with stupidity. Research by the Columbia University has found that children who were praised for their intelligence, as compared to their effort, become overly focused on the results. They will attribute their failure to a lack of ability which they believed that they could not change and perform poorly in future achievement efforts.
Instead of praising them for their intelligence, you should praise your children in areas which they have control over and can work on, such as attitude, responsibility, commitment, compassion and discipline.
With young children, there is actually no need to praise them at all. You can just highlight what they did such as “You finished your breakfast today”, followed by a smile of pride.
Another alternative is that you can ask your children questions such as “How do you think you did for the performance?” This will allow them to decide for themselves how well they did for a particular performance or action and decide whether they should be rewarded for them. This is because children themselves know when they did well and by letting them come to the realization on their own, they will not become dependent on your praises or by others in the future.
Be a good role model for your child
Strive to be a successful person in your life for your child to look up to as a role model. With a career or skill which you are passionate about, your child will strive to find a passion in his or her life just like you. Furthermore, with your guidance to help him or her find and develop their passion in life, they will most likely be successful individuals in the future.
Being a good role model for your child is also not just about your career or qualifications, it is about your character, mindset and the way you behave in daily activities that your child will probably follow in your footstep.
Nurture independence in your child
Children should be taught to be independent from young. Research has shown that if parents are working, children tend to be more independent. According to research done by Harvard Business School, children who have working mothers who work away from home turn out to be more successful than their peers. This is because with working parents, children tend to be more independent than their peers and feel more ownership and responsibility for the household. Hence, you can assign household chores for your child to do regularly to cultivate independence in him or her.
Apply for financial aid for your child if needed
If your family is stressed about finances, your child may be stressed about it too. Do not hesitate to apply for aid and subsidies such as from The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and school financial aid to help with your family’s finances and allow your child to be able to study without the stress of finances. Encourage your child to pursue his or her passion such as attending competitions or taking extra classes without needing to worry about the cost. Often, you may seek help from the school which are usually helpful for the additional costs.
Encourage learning in your child by doing the same
Parents should constantly learn new things and actively seek new knowledge. When children see that their parents have the spirit to learn, they will be encouraged and inspired to learn too. They should also understand that failure or having doubts is fine in the learning process.
Teach your child math early
According to research done by Northwest University, the mastery of early math skills not only predicts future math achievement, but also predicts future reading achievement.
Develop a supportive relationship with your child
Be a sensitive caregiver to your child in a way that you can respond to your child’s signals immediately and appropriately. You should also provide a secure base for your child to explore the world. A supportive, caring and nurturing parent-child relationship is essential for the growth of your child into adulthood and will have long term returns in a child’s life, according to a University of Minnesota psychologist.
Avoid being stressed
Many of the mothers who are working may be stressed as they have to juggle work and family at the same time. However, a mother’s stress, frustration or sadness can cause the child to feel stressed as well, which may be detrimental to his or her growth. This is called emotional contagion whereby people can catch feelings from one another. Hence, you can try your best to relax and create a calm environment for your child’s emotional health so that he or she can have the emotional strength to pursue his or her daily activities and endeavours.
Some parents may be stressed about not having enough time for their child as they need to go to work. However, research by the Journal of Marriage and Family has shown that spending more time with children between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behaviour, well-being or achievement. Parents should still spend quality time with their children; it is just that the quantity of time does not matter. Therefore, there is no need to be stressed about not being able to be by your child’s side most of the time due to work. Furthermore, you should avoid helicopter parenting or intensive mothering as it can backfire.
To relieve stress, it is also helpful to go for Yoga or Pilate class and date nights with your spouse regularly to have some quiet and quality time away from your child.
Nurture a growth mindset in your child
Parents should nurture a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset in their child. The fixed mindset assumes that our character and intelligence are static givens that we cannot change in any way, and success is the confirmation of that inherent intelligence. People who has this mindset believe that failure is due to stupidity that they cannot change and also avoid failure so as to maintain the sense of being smart or skilled.
Therefore, instead, parents should cultivate a growth mindset in their child which does not see failure as a result of intelligence and thrives on challenges. People with such mindset also believe that they are able to improve their skills and knowledge and ability or intelligence is not static. Failure is also just another push for growth, a stretch of their existing abilities and should not be avoided. You should value the effort of your child, tell him or her that failure is a learning experience and that it is possible to improve with more effort put in.
With such a mindset and attitude in life, your child will believe in himself or herself and be on a healthy path of growth.