According to experts raising children is simple, although it may not be easy. As Inc. contributing columnist Christina DesMarais said, “In reality, getting children from infancy to adulthood so that they grow into thriving human beings takes a lot of work and intention.”
To help you in this process, we have compiled some well-researched ways that are proven to give your kids a head start in life.
1. Take kids outdoors
In a study, 451 8-and 9 year-olds completed surveys before and after participating in outdoor activities. The study found that 79 percent of them reported feeling more confident in themselves afterward.
2. Foster resilience in the family
Research suggests that bringing children into the process of working through family problems builds resilience in children, making them less likely to be bullied. It seems to help them understand what strengths they have to contribute and how to stay hopeful in hard times.
Sounds like something we all need.
3. Encourage kids to take risks
According to Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, teenagers are meant to take risks. She says this can even cause young people to not have as much anxiety.
Business Insider chimes in with their market research that this kind of grit is needed in every generation.
4. Eat dinner as a family
According to a nonprofit organization operating out of Harvard University, kids who eat with their families roughly five days a week exhibit lower levels of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, obesity and depression. They also have higher grade-point averages, better vocabularies and more self-esteem.
5. Make them work
In a 2015 TED Talk, Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult and the former dean of freshman at Stanford University, cites the Harvard Grant Study which found that the participants who achieved the greatest professional success did chores as a child.
6. Read to them
Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine have found that babies whose parents read to them have better language, literacy and early reading skills. It also instills a love for books at a young age. Kids who like books when they’re young grow into people who read for fun later on according to Dr. Alice Sullivan, who uses the British Cohort Study to track various aspects of 17,000 people in the UK.
“We compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less,” she writes for The Guardian. “In other words, reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics.”
7. Encourage them to travel
The Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) surveyed 1,432 US teachers who credit international travel, in particular, with affecting students in a myriad of good ways:
- Desire to travel more (76%)
- Increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities (74%)
- Increased willingness to know/learn/explore (73%)
- Increased willingness to try different foods (70%)
- Increased independence, self-esteem and confidence (69%)
- More intellectual curiosity (69%)
- Increased tolerance and respectfulness (66%)
- Better adaptability and sensitivity (66%)
- Being more outgoing (51%)
- Better self-expression (51%)
- Increased attractiveness to college admissions (42%)
If sending your son or daughter abroad or bringing them with you overseas isn’t feasible, take heart. The survey also asked teachers about domestic travel and found similar benefits for students.
8. Let them fail
Over time, children who have experienced defeat will build resilience and be more willing to attempt difficult tasks and activities because they are not afraid to fail. And, she says, rescuing your child sends the message that you don’t trust him or her. “Your willingness to see your child struggle communicates that you believe they are capable and that they can handle any outcome, even a negative one,” she says.
According to Dr. Stephanie O’Leary, a clinical psychologist specializing in neuropsychology and author of Parenting in the Real World: The Rules Have Changed, failure is good for kids on several levels.
In closing we want to remember that God’s grace covers all our mistakes, so we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves as parents. He is a good Father to us and to our kids. He can fill in the gaps!