The 9 Traits That Parents of Successful Children Seem to Share
Every parent wants their child to do well in school and achieve success down the road.
But that road doesn’t commence in first grade, fifth grade, or freshman year of college. According to a recent article in Business Insider, it begins at home from the very outset.
Writers Drake Baer and Rachel Gillett, citing research from multiple studies, pinpointed nine traits that parents of successful children have in common. “Unsurprisingly,” they write, “much of it (in terms of success) comes down to the parents.”
What are those nine traits that they say are likely to put a child on the right path?
1- The parents have a positive relationship with their kids
They are responsive, sensitive to, and provide consistent care for their children. In doing so, they “provide a secure base” for children to reach for their own goals, according to PsyBlog, reporting on a study by University of Minnesota Psychologist Lee Raby. “Sensitive caregiving in the first three years of life can predict academic achievement and social competence all the way into adulthood.” Parental involvement is certainly front and center when it comes to supporting learning.
2- The parents enjoy a higher socioeconomic status
In general, higher income translates into better schools and more opportunities, such as preschools and tutoring. One in five American kids grows up in poverty, and the income and achievement gap is widening. “The achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier,” writes Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon for Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis.
3- The parents teach kids social skills
A 20-year study by researchers at Penn State and Duke universities concluded that kids who get along with others early in life are less likely to incur substance abuse problems and trouble with the law, and more likely to earn a college degree and be employed 20 years after graduating kindergarten. “Helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research. “From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison and whether they end up employed or addicted.”
4- The parents have high expectations for their children
Discussing his survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, UCLA Professor Neal Halfon indicated that “parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal, irrespective of their income and other assets.” Analyzing standardized math and reading tests, those expected by their parents to earn a college degree scored considerably higher than those receiving less-supportive parental interaction. Said Halfon: “The big surprise was what a strong role parents’ long-term goals for their children played in predicting their math and reading abilities.”
5- The parents received a better education
Parents with graduate degrees are far more likely to see their children attend college than those without. But even a bachelor’s degree makes a difference. Findings from the “Condition of Education” report by the U.S. Department of Education in 2001 found: “Eighty-two percent of students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree or higher enrolled in college immediately after finishing high school. The rates were much lower for those whose parents had completed high school but not college (54 percent) and even lower for those whose parents had less than a high school diploma (36 percent)”
6- The parents teach their children math as early as possible
A study of 35,000 preschoolers from the U.S., Canada, and Britain determined that developing math skills early not only predicts math aptitude but higher reading achievement in future years.
7- One of the parents is a working mom
According to research by the Harvard Business School, daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned 23 percent more than peers who were raised by stay-at-home mothers. Sons of working mothers were more likely to pitch in with household chores and childcare.
8- The parents aren’t stressed-out
If a parent is exhausted or show signs of frustration, those feelings are likely to transfer to their children. Kids with stressed parents can run the risk of mood disorders, including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
9- The parents value effort over avoiding failure
The Business Insider authors note the benefits of a “growth mindset,” which “thrives on challenge and sees failure . . . as a heartening springboard for growth,” rather than a “fixed mindset” that “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative abilities are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way. . . . Avoiding failure at all costs becomes a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.”
Seth Livingstone is a veteran writer and editor who has spent much of his career in sports journalism covering multiple Olympic Games, Super Bowls, World Series, and Daytona 500s. He covered the Boston Red Sox throughout the 1980s and 1990s before joining USA Today and Baseball Weekly in 1999. He maintains his membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America and is a Hall of Fame voter. Seth holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and has also worked as a substitute teacher (all grades and subjects). He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and has two grown children.