The path to raising successful children can seem nebulous. The avalanche of advice, some science-based and some not, can end up being more overwhelming than guiding.
But there are common threads among parents who raise resilient, confident, well-adjusted children.
Here are three things parents of highly successful kids have in common.
They teach empathy
Michele Borba is an educational psychologist, parenting expert, and author of “Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine”
One of the traits that separate successful kids from the herd is that their parents regularly modeled empathy for them, she wrote for CNBC Make It. There are a few ways you can do that:
- Help your child build an emotional vocabulary by naming emotions in real time. It can be as easy as saying “You’re happy” or “You seem bothered”
- Ask your child about their emotions. This can help them recognize how they are feeling and express themselves without shame. Try saying “How did that make you feel?” or “You seem scared. Am I right?”
- Share your own emotions so your kid feels safe sharing theirs.
- Ask your kids to notice the feelings of people around them. If you’re at the park, point to a person and ask “How do you think that person is feeling?”
They show an interest in their child’s interests
Even if it’s not a hobby, showing interest in what your child is doing or seeing from daily can have a monumental impact, says Dr. Dana Suskind, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
It helps build cognitive skills, like reading and memory, and non-cognitive skills, like resilience and grit,
Suskind also authored the book “Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise.”
She endorses the 3T strategy which consists of three steps:
- Tune in: Make a conscious effort to notice what your child is focusing on. “Let’s say you’re sitting at the table with your child eating a snack, and you see them looking out the window,” she wrote for CNBC Make It. “Try to follow their line of sight and tune in to what they’re focusing on. Then, ask them a question that prompts them to talk about it.”
- Talk more: Chat with them about what they find captivating. “The more words put into the bank, the more brain connections a child builds and the bigger their vocabulary becomes,” she wrote.
- Take turns: Make sure you’re both participating in the conversation equally. “Engage in back-and-forth conversation patterns by asking questions that encourage your child to describe the world around them or how they’re feeling,” she wrote.
They are optimistic
Roni Cohen-Sandler is a psychologist who specializes in mother-daughter relationships, adolescent development, and parent guidance. She also authored “Anything But My Phone, Mom: Raising Emotionally Resilient Daughters in the Digital Age.”
To raise resilient, socially intelligent kids you need to teach them to look at the positive, she says. This can be hard as kids tend to dwell on negative experiences or emotions.
“While empathizing with your child’s distress, refocusing their attention on their most recent triumphs and pleasures lets them appreciate the bigger and brighter picture,” she wrote for CNBC Make It.
Borba agrees that optimism is a key factor in success.
“Optimistic kids view challenges and obstacles as temporary and able to be overcome, so they are more likely to succeed,” she wrote.
Be more mindful of your own behaviors. Do you describe situations in a negative or positive way? Would your friends say you are a glass-half-full of glass-half-empty kind of person?
“If you see that you’re tilting to the half-empty side, remember that change starts by looking in the mirror,” she wrote.
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