TEACHABLE MOMENTS: Parents of successful individuals have nine actions in common

Tommy Fairweather
Tommy Fairweather

A recent blog by Drake Baer and Rachel Gillett (MSN Business Insider 7/29/2015) stated the parents of successful students took the following deliberate actions that contributed to their children’s success. The purpose of this article is to share these actions and suggest how parents might implement them.

Parents of successful students taught social skills early so that the children accomplished the use of these skills before Kindergarten. The best way to teach listening and caring for others is to model the behaviors yourself. The Bernstein Bears book series has a book for many social skills. Read and reread these books and discuss them often with your child.

Parents of successful children set high expectations. Parents can set long term goals such as going to college, and then set annual goals. These goals need to be communicated to the child frequently. Parents should monitor activities that will accomplish the goals and be ready to provide back-up when needed. An example would be hiring a tutor when needed.

The authors stated one research fact that surprised me but made sense. Most of the mothers of these successful children worked outside the home. The mothers were creating a role model for their daughters. The daughters who had mothers that worked earned 23 percent more than daughters who had stay-at-home mothers. The sons of working mothers pitched in more to help at home than boys of stay-at-home moms. Mothers can accomplish working with time management at home and finding a flexible-hour job.

The families of successful children, as stated in the blog, were in a higher socioeconomic class. This makes sense because a two income family creates a larger pool of money. Though the blog did not mention this, the extra money could be used for college, vacations to areas of interest, or for accommodating some kind of activity of interest to the child (music lessons etc.).

The educational level of mothers seemed to be important. The mothers with high school or college education were more likely to raise children who had attained the same or higher level of education. Mothers should also be interested in seeking further education.

The research indicates that the parents of successful children started teaching them math early. The authors of the blog quoted a Northwestern University Study by Greg Duncan. The study states that acquisition of the early math skills of number order, number understanding and simple math concepts translates to early success in both reading and math.

Developing a relationship with your child, especially during the first three years of life, was another common activity of these parents. As parents, you need to be determined to have quality time with your child. Help your child find his/her own interests and support those interests. The most important thing you can do is to develop a strong sense of trust and effective communication between you and your child.

Parents of successful children were less stressed. These parents had learned to live a healthy and balanced life. They learned that when they had children some of their own “wants” had to be put on hold temporarily. They realized quality time with children was important. I suspect the use of media was properly guided in these homes.

Parents of successful children valued effort toward accomplishment. The authors of the blog briefly described Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which provides an in-depth discussion about why parents and teachers should value effort to develop a growth mindset. Children learn best and continue to be interested in learning if they experiment (intellectually and physically), fail, reflect on what went wrong, and try again. Dweck calls this a Growth Mindset. The parents of these children focused more on what children learned than specific grades. They had high expectation of grade but they wanted the learning to be valuable. Effort is a huge part of this learning process and parents encouraged it.

Parents should stop and reflect on their own parenting activities. Take the ideas expressed by the blog in this article and make adjustments where needed, and you will give your child a better chance at being successful.

Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher and educational consultant who lives in Destin.