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7 Critical Things Only Smart Parents Do for Their Kids

Editorial Team
Updated Mar 01, 2024

How many times a day do you wonder if you’re doing this parenting thing right? If you’re like me, too many times to count.

Fortunately, science and child development experts actually have found several best practices for parenting that tend to yield the best results for child success and independence in adulthood.

While every child is different, doing these seven critical things is likely to set your kids up for success in life.

1. Get your kids involved in academics early on

parents reading to their daughter

Here’s the thing – if you wanna know how to raise a successful child, start with academics. (Shocker, I know.)

Kids need exposure to educational material when they’re young. Then, when they’re ready to start school, they’ll already have had practice grasping new concepts. They’ll understand that learning is a part of life – and it’s fun, too!

There are several ways you can make learning a natural part of your child’s daily routine.

  • Read to them regularly.
  • Get them involved in music & arts.
  • Help them make observations, like how plants grow or how weather patterns occur.

And, of course, once your child is in school, you can assume the position of tutor – or, you could look into hiring a tutor. Just make sure you find an experienced tutor to help you out. The world of online tutoring has really advanced in the last few years, and you'd be surprised how great they can be. Just make sure they are experienced and that they specialize in your child's particular area of struggle, such as algebra, geometry, or calculus. So far, this online tutor services has been the most impressive.

2. Don’t overdo it on the screen time

The words “screen time” fill many of us parents with guilt (especially during a pandemic). The AAP recommends kids ages 2-5 be limited to 1 hour of screen time per day. But if you’re worried your child has watched one too many episodes of Daniel Tiger or Sesame Street, remember the most important thing here is to find a balance.

It’s not only about the duration of time, but the content kids watch is also important. So if you can find educational programs for them, all the better. Make sure your child is getting plenty of active time during the day, too (outside, when possible), and that screen time doesn’t interfere with sleep.

Designate times of the day or areas in your home that are screen-free (dinner time or the dinner table, for example). Ensure your children get plenty of quality time with people, especially parents and other family members. Take into account your situation, the AAP’s guidelines, and these nuances to strike a balance that works for your family.

3. Teach your child to be a helper

kid helping parent

Who couldn’t use an extra set of helping hands around the house? If you want to know how to make your child successful in life, put them to work – seriously! Assigning chores to children as young as 3 or 4 is more predictive of their professional performance and overall success as an adult than their grades or college education. That’s pretty dang significant!

Performing daily chores teaches kids valuable lessons in work ethic and teamwork, setting them off to be excellent collaborators on their professional teams down the road. It teaches that work is an important part of participating in life.

4. Start them young with mathematics

Early math skills have been shown to have the greatest predictive impact on academic achievement in school – even compared to reading! Kids from all backgrounds are better prepared for school and achievements later in life when they are taught math early on.

Help your child notice math concepts that show up in everyday life. This includes counting objects, recognizing shapes, and measuring ingredients while cooking together.

And, when they’re ready, you may even consider setting your child up with a math tutor.

While there are handfuls of math tutors available, we’ve done a bit of due diligence and have found this one to be the very best.

5. Cultivate social skills

kids walking

Science proves that kids with strong social skills in kindergarten are more likely to achieve overall success in early adulthood. These kids thrive as they enter the real world, and are more likely to earn a college degree and obtain a full-time job by age 25.

So what social skills are important for kindergarteners to know? Communication (expressing needs and listening without interrupting), collaboration (solving arguments with friends), cooperation (sharing), and empathy (understanding feelings and wanting to help).

You may be thinking, these skills are difficult for adults to master. How am I supposed to teach my children? First off, they don’t have to be perfect at it (they are kids, after all). Just make it a priority to practice. And start with your own example. Put down the phone once in a while and look your child in the eye to listen or play together.

6. Expect great things

Setting high expectations for your kids encourages them to rise up and meet those expectations. There’s a caveat, though. High expectations must be combined with high levels of love and affection.

Parenting styles with high expectations and little love (authoritarian), OR with low expectations and lots of love (permissive) are found to be much less effective. But maintaining high expectations AND showering kids with love (authoritative) strikes the right balance. Think goldilocks – authoritarian is too hard, permissive is too soft, and authoritative is just right. It leads to self-esteem, confidence, and achievement in children.

7. Raise kids who are up for a challenge

Sometimes we parents get so protective of our “precious little babies” that we become helicopters, scrutinizing their every move and removing every risk.

Acclaimed NYT best-seller Julie Lythott-Haims reminds us to avoid overparenting. If we really want our kids to grow, we need to allow them to make some decisions on their own, fail, and pick themselves back up again. This will help them develop resourcefulness and resilience.

Foster a growth mindset – which focuses on effort, process, and growth – over a fixed mindset – which is focused on innate qualities, performance, and results. While a fixed mindset fears failure, a child with a growth mindset is fired up by academic challenges.

How to raise a successful child

So maybe I’m not the all-knowing source of parenting answers. But if you start by implementing these seven parenting habits, you’ll definitely be on the right track to raising your little ones into balanced, healthy, intelligent, hard-working, confident, independent adults. Isn’t that just what every parent wants for their kids?

Just remember, you don’t need to be perfect. Just stay intentional and consistent in your parenting, and then watch to see your children grow up to reach incredible potential.

Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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