5 unusual ways to raise successful children

This is a guest post from Natalie Peace of PeaceAndProfit.com. She is the author of 30 Keys to Building a Multi-Million Dollar Business: What They Didn't Teach Me in Business School . Natalie is an entrepreneur, business coach, and she's currently writing a book on how to start a wildly successful business.

Looking at the businesses I've built, managed, and sold (worth $2 million) by the age of 30, I've been reflecting lately on what set the foundation for my achievements so that I can help others experience financial security and abundance. I believe my success is the result of an unusual childhood, and a few unique things my parents did to set me up for success.

1. Give Incentive to Learn From the Masters

My father actually paid me $2 to listen to each chapter of an audiobook and then summarize the main points in my own words, so I wound up listening to dozens of audiobooks throughout my childhood. (I didn't get paid for chores as they were simply expected of me.) The trick was that he would choose books on management, wealth building, and personal growth.

I was four years old when he started this, and as a result I became fascinated with human potential and manifesting wealth long before I was even old enough to have a paper route or babysitting job. All this knowledge seeped into my young, fertile brain and shaped my subconscious, priming me to be a confident entrepreneur and manager. People often tell me about great, classic books they read by people like Napoleon Hill, Og Mandino, Denis Waitley, and Zig Ziglar and I smile, fondly recalling my experience listening to those masters.

2. Encourage Questions

Both of my parents went out of their way to make sure I felt heard, understood and valued. They would explain to me what was interesting and important about anything I was saying and would then expand on the topic with their own knowledge. And they were always willing to answer the million “why” questions I asked, with real answers. They never responded “because I said so.

3. Provide Unconditional Love

Researcher Brené Brown talks about the concept of teaching children that they are worthy of love and belonging, rather than telling them they're perfect. This is a big distinction, and I believe I'm a good example of why this works. There will be days when the world is going to chew you up and spit you out. People are going to laugh at you and call you names, and they will reject you and your ideas. Knowing all of this will happen to your child and insisting that they are perfect no matter what will not help them.

No one is perfect. We don't need to be! Instead, we can learn to hear feedback from others through a filter that says we're completely lovable as we are. If we know for certain we are lovable regardless of what people do or say to us, we can then hear criticism and search it objectively for meaningful clues on how we can improve. My mom has always shown me a great deal of love and affection, and it's certainly one of the biggest secrets of my success.

4. Show the Importance of a Strong Work Ethic

When I was a teenager, Dad had me mowing his yard, which was a sprawling acreage back then. Of course I had more fun things to do than household chores, so I got it done as quickly as possible. One day when I had finished, he thanked me and told me he wanted to tell the neighbors about my mowing skills, so they would hire me to do their yards as well.

The prospect of making cash appealed to me, so I was all ears. My dad then said, “Let's take a look at the yard now. Are you happy with how it looks? Would you sign your name to this job, proudly telling people you did it?” As I surveyed my hasty mowing efforts, it was plain to see that I had left behind several tufts and swatches of grass. I realized that no one who'd seen this would hire me to take care of their yard. My dad could have yelled at me for being lazy, but he chose instead to demonstrate the benefit of a solid work ethic.

5. Teach Kids to be Powerful

I was not allowed to indulge myself in negative self-talk. I was shown how to cancel negative beliefs (like “I can't do this”), and replace them with positive ones, focusing on the desired outcome. I started doing visualization exercises and focusing on goal-setting at the age of five, beginning with small goals like teaching my dog how to sit and saving up to buy a bike. When I had success achieving these goals, it gave me the confidence to reach for bigger things, with the belief that I would attain them.

I was encouraged to set goals in all areas of my life — when I was six, I wanted the training wheels off my bike and knew it would take practice to get there. When I was 12, I set a goal to take a babysitting course so I could earn money. When I was 13, I set a goal of being a really good friend.

You can help your kids set goals in areas they're genuinely interested in, as well as set goals they would probably achieve anyway (like passing second grade). Get them to write down these goals somewhere they'll see them every day, and check them off when they're complete. When I did this as a kid, it gave me enormous satisfaction. (It still does today!)

As a result of a somewhat unique upbringing — thank you, Mom and Dad! — I don't have a fear of success, and I know that creating abundant wealth is possible. What other unusual and effective parenting methods have you used or observed to set kids up for success? Share them in the comments!

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Dawn
Dawn
8 years ago

great article, especially #1…I will have to try it 🙂

Elaine
Elaine
8 years ago
Reply to  Dawn

If audiobooks get long or stale, try TED talks.
Online lectures from experts on any subject from education to science. They’re only 3-18 mins long. Watch them with your kid, because they’re quite interesting.

http://www.ted.com/

Casey
Casey
8 years ago
Reply to  Dawn

If the author was able to listen to an audio book and summarize the main points by age four, I think there was a pretty high likelihood of her being a success.

Lakshini
Lakshini
8 years ago
Reply to  Dawn

Very interesting. It was an eye-operner. I have a very intelligent 4 year old daughter and have every intention to try out some of the tactics. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the world.

Luis
Luis
8 years ago

I would have to add the use of “teachable moments”. It is all those opportunities that arise when you can make a lesson out of a problem, challenge or difficulty. Even an argument over a difference with the child can serve as a teachable moment by showing how to listen, analyze and consider their point of view and then respond accordingly.

Angela
Angela
8 years ago

It sounds like Natalie’s parents instilled some excellent lessons in her, but I have to give a side-eye to parents making their 4 or 5 year old listen to “life coaches.” And though her parents’ lessons seem geared to the importance of working hard and feeling confident (and not just wealth-building), I worry about what happens when we turn kids into little businessmen and businesswomen. An older friend was recently telling me about his daughter who had just graduated from college and was moving across the country for a job. I asked how both he and his daughter felt about… Read more »

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  Angela

Agreed. “Let your child be a child” seems conspicuously absent from the list. I’m extremely put off by the idea of having a four-year-old listen to wealth-building audiobooks.

Elaine
Elaine
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

Treating children like children fosters dependence. My parents never a took “let a child be a child” attitude. But they never talked down to me, would reason with me like an adult, and had the patience to explain when I didn’t understand or had the endless “why” questions. As a child, I might have been precocious and put off a few people for it, but my parents’ philosophy fostered a desire for independence and maturity in me. At 22, I had a professional job, college degree, no debt, and retirement savings, while most of my friends were living in their… Read more »

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

Allowing children to live as children is not the same as constantly coddling and sheltering them, talking down to them, not giving the opportunity to challenge themselves and fail, doing all their thinking for them. A four-year-old should be outside playing, preferably with other kids, getting dirty, learning to read age appropriate books; not being paid two bucks a chapter to listen to tax loopholes and paeans on the entrepreneurial spirit.

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

“Treating children like children fosters dependence. ” Ummmm… Children are the quintessential example of dependents. I claim my child as a dependent on my taxes. Children should be treated like children. It’s what they are. ” At 22, I had a professional job, college degree, no debt, and retirement savings, while most of my friends were living in their parent’s basements.” Yes, yes your parents were perfect as seen by your perfection. I have many many friends whose parents were perfect. I’m sure they will be perfect parents too. IMO imperfect parent knows she has room to improve as a… Read more »

suzy
suzy
8 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

“A four-year-old should be outside playing, preferably with other kids, getting dirty, learning to read age appropriate books; not being paid two bucks a chapter to listen to tax loopholes and paeans on the entrepreneurial spirit.” Mmm… too bad a 4-year-old’s day is too busy to allow for both free play and structured learning. 😉 My daughter isn’t 4 yet, but when she’s old enough to start listening to and summarizing chapters, I’ll try to remember this trick as a way to challenge her to work on higher-level stuff. In between building mud forts and swinging from trees, of course.… Read more »

chamoiswillow
chamoiswillow
8 years ago
Reply to  Angela

Angela, I fully agree with your point about community. However, to your point “I worry about what happens when we turn kids into little businessmen and business women” It’s not about business per se, it’s about empowerment. If we are not taught, and taught well and taught young, to take control of our destiny, other people/businesses will. Everyone on this forum who is in debt and learning how not to be has let various people and institutions exert undue influence/control their financial lives. It’s not a big step from there to many, many other life decisions as well. There are… Read more »

Terry
Terry
8 years ago

Nice article.

I used to take my kids with me to Toastmaster meetings. They were about 14 and 11 when I started, and even though they were too young to be members, the club allowed them to give occassional speeches.

They had fun, and it gave them a sense of self confidence when addressing a group of people.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Terry

Agreed! One of the best things my parents did for me and my siblings was encourage us to join them in things they were passionate about. Sometimes it stuck, sometimes it didn’t, but I think we benefited from trying new things.

We were also encouraged to try things in our community that they weren’t involved in — like the choir at church and swimming at the local pool. (Neither of my parents swim for the fun of it.)

Leah
Leah
8 years ago
Reply to  Terry

Confidence when speaking is so important! My dad is a minister, and I started doing readings in church when I was 8 or 9. I’ve never been afraid to speak in front of folks. And, frankly, I find it a little silly when people feel nervous about public speaking. Nothing bad is going to happen.

prodgod
prodgod
8 years ago
Reply to  Leah

With all due respect, I’ve been engaged in public speaking all of my life and am still quite nervous about it every time. And because it’s been such a part of my career for decades, people around me think it’s “silly” that speaking in front of a group, no matter how small, would produce such anxiety in me. Regardless of how silly you may think this fear is, I’m certainly in good company – there’s a reason a majority of people list public speaking as their #1 fear, ahead of dying, even.

Elaine
Elaine
8 years ago
Reply to  Terry

Years of violin recitals and then singing in the church band accomplished the same thing for me. No fear of public speaking after that.

Christa
Christa
8 years ago
Reply to  Terry

I love the idea of taking a pre-teen to Toastmasters! I would have greatly benefitted from that when I was young, because I was so shy. I might have to do this for my own kids when the time comes.

Amber
Amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Christa

Christa I recommend you get your kids involved with your local 4-H club. I started public speaking through my club when I was 8 and continued right through high school. We were never a very formal club and always had a lot of fun, but giving Public Presentations (as they are called) was the best thing I could have done to come out of my shy self. 4-H does all kinds of things that encourage development towards adulthood in a kid-friendly way, but public speaking was the #1 ‘marketable’ skill I got from it. In college I won $1500 dollars… Read more »

Kirstine
Kirstine
8 years ago

The best I’ve read on the subject is How Not to Talk to Your Children in New York Times. The author show the reverse power of praise – that we shouldn’t praise our kids for what they achieve ’cause it will make them fear failing and thus resent trying. Instead we should encourage them to keep trying, practise, do hard things even though you might fail, show them the example of trying different things to find methods that work etc. I do this with my own children. My four year old already get’s (some) of this. When he’s succesful in… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Kirstine

Having taught high school and university students, I’ve seen what happens when kids go through their formative years being told everything they do is perfect and wonderful.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t build kids’ confidence, but I think we also need to let them fail and teach them how to cope with mistakes. I read an article a few months back about how many people don’t really face criticism and failure until they’re in the workplace and how high schools and universities should make sure they’re better prepared. I also think it’s the parents’ job too!

Alcie
Alcie
8 years ago
Reply to  Kirstine

So true. I grew up with a variant of this. I was praised for what I did well, then given a small critique on what could be improved. I.e. “You did a really good job getting the stitches even, but next time check to see that the hem is straight before you sew it.” (I did a lot of sewing and “designing” as a kid.) When I started teaching, I lifted this technique wholesale. People like to be praised. It makes them pay attention and feel good, so they are more likely to attend when I point out areas they… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Alcie

In teacher’s college, they told us to praise three things before offering a critique. I find this strategy works equally well with colleagues 🙂

Jane
Jane
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I’ve often heard this referred to as the “poison sandwich.” You basically start with a compliment, then the critique, and then another compliment. It is very effective, and I used it a lot when critiquing student papers.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

lol! Never heard that term before! It’s practical though — people need to hear what they’re doing right so they can keep doing it.

PB
PB
8 years ago
Reply to  Alcie

My mother did this with me,too, but the lesson that I took away from it was that I was never going to be able to please her, which turned out to be correct. Sometimes just a little bit of straight praise/appreciation can go a long way, even if the giver has to bite her tongue at the time.

Russell
Russell
8 years ago
Reply to  Kirstine

I just read the New York Magazine article, on Kirstine’s suggestion (http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/), and I highly recommend it. It has some very good quantitative results on how praising intelligence leads kids to not try at challenging problems, while praising effort leads kids to work to meet challenges.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago

Good points! However, I would advise people be very careful with #1. When you pay your children to do something, you could be sending the message that things aren’t worth doing unless there’s a reward (thereby fostering extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic.) I saw this a lot as a teacher. Some kids love the subject matter and that shines through in their work — and some kids just chase the marks. Some kids volunteer because they love it, others only do it because it’s required. That’s okay — different people are motivated by different things. But I think if you… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Yes– there’s strong evidence on how giving extrinsic motivation in the form of cash kills intrinsic motivation.

There’s some evidence that when someone is really awful at something (ex. reading), paying them until they have a basic competency in that may increase intrinsic motivation if payments are stopped at that point. But for the most part extrinsic rewards crowd out intrinsic motivation.

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Would love to read some of this research…any specific sources?

Steven
Steven
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

Try this video with Dan Pink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

Also Carol Dweck talks about some of it. If you google intrinsic motivation extrinsic motivation and payment you should get a LOT of hits.

Nate
Nate
8 years ago

These are fine ideas, but it seems they were applied a little young. They seem more appropriate for a child in their teens. I wonder if the “fog of childhood” has crept into her memories of growing up. Any parent who has never said “because I said so” has not experienced real parenting. I don’t notice anything about being a parent in her byline. Don’t take this as a criticism of the poster and not the post. It just seems like the kind of advice often given by non-parents. Absolutes and high ideals with little realism included. It can be… Read more »

Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago
Reply to  Nate

Yes. I taught my children to obey first, and ask questions later. You don’t want your child asking, “but why do I have to get out of the street?” when there’s a truck bearing down on them. Or asking “why can’t I go over to John’s house?” in front of John when the answer is “John’s father is an alcoholic and I don’t want you around him.”

Rushell
Rushell
8 years ago
Reply to  Nate

My mom never said “because I said so” because she wanted us to be clear on the reasons why she was saying no and she did this with all five of her children. I have two children and am following in my moms footsteps. I make it a point to explain the why behind my no. They may not agree but at least they know why.

prodgod
prodgod
8 years ago
Reply to  Rushell

I tried the explain-everything to our first child, with the idea that I never wanted to be the kind of parent that answered, “Because I said so!” But, experience changed that rather quickly. Not sure how old your children are, but when you present them with reasons why you don’t want them to do something, yet they are wise enough to counter with a logical arguments, you may find yourself pulling out the “because-I-said-so” card. Otherwise, be prepared to have every rule challenged. That may sound wonderful in principle, but it’s rather tiring in practice.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  prodgod

Huh. We’ve never found it difficult to explain why. Though we’ve only had 5 years to practice. I think it actually makes it easier in the long run because our son trusts that there’s a good reason behind every rule, even if that reason is just, “because in this culture it is polite”. If there isn’t a good reason we can explain then why have the rule? A little over 5 years ago some article in the NYTimes came out that talked about class differences in things like “Because I said so” and “Because you could get hurt” also making… Read more »

prodgod
prodgod
8 years ago
Reply to  prodgod

@Nicole: Could be the age. It would be interesting to see, as your child gets older and flexes more independence, if this still works for you. It may, and I certainly hope it does. As I said before, I agree with this in principle, just found it difficult to execute in reality. For example, your child may want to walk to the store with his friends and you don’t want him to, so you tell him no. He asks why (looking for an objection to overcome) and you tell him because you’re afraid he might get hurt. He promises to… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  prodgod

Seriously doubt that. My parents never pulled out the “because” or “I told you so” either. At any age. In your example, if we could make a convincing argument, then good. If we couldn’t, then we couldn’t. The argument is either truly convincing or it isn’t. I may not remember much of life before 5, but I remember it pretty well after 5. People around here who use the “because” and “I told you so” (or “I’m the parent/adult”) also say that you MUST spank your kids or they will misbehave. That’s also most definitely not true. In fact, kids… Read more »

prodgod
prodgod
8 years ago
Reply to  prodgod

@Nicole: Believe it or not, I can’t argue with anything you said, with the possible exception of how my comments have portrayed me as some iron-fisted disciplinarian; actually, the opposite is true. My peers and extended family members often criticized my parenting as being too loose, for implementing many of the same practices you discuss (which I still agree with, in principle). I raised my children with freedom to discuss ANYTHING with me, in an environment free from corporal punishment, and I always listened to them (and still do). However, once the teen years hit, I was constantly reminded by… Read more »

Vyviane
Vyviane
8 years ago
Reply to  Nate

Nate you say Any parent who has never said “because I said so” has not experienced real parenting. I don’t notice anything about being a parent in her byline. I have been a nanny for fifteen years and a parent for five and I have never said anything along those lines. I wouldn’t say that to my husband, clients, friends etc so why I would talk to my child that way? I would also not want my child to speak to me that way and I believe strongly in setting an example of good behavior is key in having happy… Read more »

Joe D.
Joe D.
8 years ago

I sometimes wonder if I’m doing enough to plant the seeds of success with my kids, and articles like this are extremely helpful reminders.

Thanks for sharing, Natalie.

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago

While there is some good advice in the article as others have stated I worry about shoving a lot of the adult oriented motivational philosophies on kids for a few reasons. First I don’t agree with all these masters since many make you feel that if you aren’t a flurry of manic activity always on the look for ways to make a buck you are somehow a failure. Second I don’t feel that what works for me, or the author, necessarily is going to work for every child. Finally the messages you think you are sending your children are often… Read more »

Rozann
Rozann
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

I so agree that siblings raised exactly the same can turn out so different. The author doesn’t mention any siblings so we can’t know how another child would have turned out with those same actions. Also, I read books such as the Ralph Moody series “Little Britches” to our boys and stopped frequently to talk about what Ralph was learning from his experiences. The great thing about that series is you get to see his growth from an eight year old to early twenties and see some outcomes in his life. Great stories of perseverance, self-discipline, and hard work. Thank… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

This SOOOO spot on. Every kid and every human is different. Or at least there are dozens of different “types” of us. While I enjoyed this article, it is simply one input. Much more important are my own skills at reading/knowing/understanding my kids and tailoring communication that works for them.

Kathryn C
Kathryn C
8 years ago

I read a study recently that said it’s better to encourage and praise kids for “trying,” vs telling them that they’re smart. I guess the kids who had parents who repeatedly told them that they’re smart have a harder time bouncing back when something goes wrong. Trying is what’s important, not how smart you are. I look back and that’s what my parents did for me, they could care less about grades and how well I did, they just wanted me to try. I think there’s a big difference between how I handle things and how my friends handle things,… Read more »

Jane
Jane
8 years ago

“How many families have siblings who are vastly different from one another in achievement and life outlooks yet raised under the same roof with the same expectations?” Bingo. I tend to think we give ourselves as parents a lot more credit or conversely blame for the end result of our parenting. That is not to say that we shouldn’t try, but parenting can also become narcissistic if we think that we are the only variable. The inborn personalities of our children matter quite a lot and perhaps even more than our parenting. You often hear that the goal of parenting… Read more »

OnABudget...Always
OnABudget...Always
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Exactly. I was going to say, some kids will be a success no matter what happens. I don’t recall my parents ever attending a school event once I got out of grade school, or ask about my grades for that matter. I was VERY surprised when they came to my graduation (DVM). Perhaps they succeeded by letting me find my own success.

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

When I was young my parents read 19th-century books to me and with me: Dickens and Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. Very plot-driven books with many vivid characters that were fascinating for a child.

Thank God they somehow forgot to include such “masters” as Og Mandino and Zig Ziglar!

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I completely agree and I’m reminded of a study I read a few years ago. It stated that a child’s friends were much more important than a child’s parents in how the child ultimately turned out. It’s a very liberating thought for those of us with kids. My husband and I try to keep our children safe and healthy. We work to make sure they have a good education. We equip them with all the tools they need for success. But if they fail, it sure as heck isn’t our fault, so we’re certainly not going to turn around and… Read more »

Janette
Janette
8 years ago
Reply to  Mom of five

That study on children’s friends must have been a one time deal. I have read hundreds of studies and that is the first ime I have heard an actual study saying anyone other than the parent being the most important influence. Sorry, you are still on the hook. Children will succeed because of parents or despite parents- but they are huge in the development. I don’t agree with motivational books reLly young. What Natalie doesn’t see is that it wasn’t the payment for the books, it was that she knew those books – and their values- pleased her parents. Since… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Janette

Kids and parents are so different I don’t think we can make any generalizations. Some kids succeed in spite of their parents and some won’t despite their parents’ best efforts. I saw a lot when I was a teacher.

IMHO, I think parents, friends, institutions (like school and the workplace), religion and the media are all influences. I can’t say which is the most important — it really depends on the parents and their children. After all, siblings can be as different as night and day despite having many of the same influences.

Heather
Heather
8 years ago
Reply to  Janette

What I’d seen was that teenagers are more influenced by peers than parents, but parenting influences who the teens choose to be friends with.

Fred
Fred
8 years ago

Your parents certainly helped you on your way to early financial success, I agree with you on that. But I’m not thrilled with the implication in this article that what worked for you is going to work for anyone else besides you. Every person is different, and many people who’ve obtained your same level of success at the same time did so with “good enough” (or worse) parenting. Also, possible other factors that may have played a role in your success before age 30 include: winning the “genetic lottery” simply by being born in a first-world country, being an intrinsically… Read more »

Kathy
Kathy
8 years ago
Reply to  Fred

You have brought out an important point “luck”! I don’t have a college degree but have lived and worked around the world in international organizations. Some of my more educated and more hard working friends have long desired to have international jobs, or at least just travel, but luck has not been on their side. I know for sure that it was not my intelligence that has made me travel so much, but plain old luck!

Liz
Liz
8 years ago

@17: But there’s trying, and then there’s TRYING. And somewhere along the way, one replaced the other, and just being out there on the soccer field, sitting at one end of the field while all the action is going on at the other end (for example), became acceptable. It really isn’t. Giving kids kudos for participating, when participating means showing up most of the time and mostly on time isn’t teaching them about the value of trying. Trying means stepping outside of your comfort zone and really going after something. Really trying takes some effort, maybe even some mild suffering… Read more »

Sharon Koenig
Sharon Koenig
8 years ago

I have personal experience with this and I don’t agree with tip #1. I tried it and it didnt’ work. I think it could work with the right personality but this is where taking any of these tips as the “gospel” is a problem. You really need to gear the financial and successful mindset training to the personality of the child. I do agree with the rest of the the tips and have had fantastic success for years doing this so they DO work!

Kris @ Debt-Tips
Kris @ Debt-Tips
8 years ago

Empower your kids. Empower them to make tough decisions. Empower them to work hard. Empower them to learn through discovery. And empower them to make mistakes and help them learn from them.

Great topic by the way!

Jason
Jason
8 years ago

We have a glass craft that the kids put change in. Our 2 year old is really doing it well and now the 1 year old is following suit. We call it their savings. I hope that it makes an impact in their future. I find taking that $1k tax return per kid is a great way to invest for the kids future. I don’t miss it.

Tessa
Tessa
8 years ago

That’s awesome! I think that all those are wonderful things to teach children. The first one I’ve never heard of but I think it’s a great practice. Though I don’t have children, I hope I can do this good of a job raising them someday.

Bella
Bella
8 years ago

I found this article to be articulate and interesting. It seems that her parents had some novel approaches to child reading that for the most part worked out. Great! I do think that it’s oversimplified and the author is clearly glossing over a significant amount of luck and innate social bias (she is genuinely intelligent – comes from a stable family – had plenty food, shelter and love when growing up) she has attempted to bring to light some unusual things that her parents did that others might try with their own children. I agree with all of the authors… Read more »

Elaine
Elaine
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

” My parents tried to prepare me for college — but how can you — it was a total shock to suddenly have to work to be average. ” I’m sorry, it sounds like college was a big adjustment. But unfortunately, this also reveals the social bias you mention earlier. You can prepare a child for the mentality required in college. For years before, my mother had drilled into me that college required 3 hours of study outside of every lecture (so I prepared to work a lot harder) and that I should self-advise from the courseguide (so I was… Read more »

GG
GG
8 years ago
Reply to  Elaine

“and that I should self-advise from the course guide (so I was never screwed from poor advising from the college).” Wow! I know 3 children (from the same family!) that allowed the colleges to chose their courses. Two “finished” a 2-year degree only to find out they took the wrong math class for their degree. They became so discouraged that they refused to go back another semester for that one class. The third finished her 4 year degree in 5 years and again – one class short. She ended up with $88,000 in loans and no real degree. BUT…. the… Read more »

Anne
Anne
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

Yes, you leverage your strengths. But you don’t coast on them. I would never be the kind of parent who asked “Where is the other 5%?” But I also wouldn’t let my son crow about an A I know he didn’t work for. Parents of kids whose skills lie in sports or music understand this intuitively. They get them on better teams or onto more difficult material. The real problem is that you were born in an era of easy classes. Trust me, if you had been born a century or two ago, it wouldn’t have been so easy to… Read more »

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

The NYT article mentioned in other comments is really good, and the underlying research is fascinating.

The A or C isn’t in the child’s control, but the effort they put in is – so praising outcomes while ignoring inputs is ineffective and can make some kids really stressed and unhappy.

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

This is a fine line I am trying to learn with my oldest, who have been told since kindergarden by various teachers she is “special” “exceptional” or “my best student” and her reporting back on the “easy” tests or she is the only person in her class reading books out of the advanced basket. Even if I didn’t say a word, she would know. So, I keep reinforcing that most of what success is, not natural talent, but hard work, and putting the effort to learn and be better, and that I knew many very smart people who didn’t do… Read more »

Heather
Heather
8 years ago
Reply to  partgypsy

I have a poster in my classroom:

Average but works hard beats brilliant but lazy

Greg Miliates
Greg Miliates
8 years ago

Teaching and modeling entrepreneurship for kids is hugely important, since very few kids are exposed to the nuts-and-bolts of real-world entrepreneurship. Since I started my own business–and have been talking about it with my kids–I’ve seen them shift their thinking from “what do I want to be” to “what kind of business do I want to start” when they grow up. Even something as simple as a lemonade stand can teach volumes about entrepreneurship. Last summer, my son wanted to do a lemonade stand. We talked about how to market it (location & signage; which season, weather, time of day,… Read more »

Bella
Bella
8 years ago
Reply to  Greg Miliates

While I haven’t read this book in entiretl yet – I’ve read reviews and had lots of people explain it to me – and actually he says that effort is NOT as significant as we think it is. That there are a significant number of other influences that direct our success, the hockey players born at the end of the year for example.

Elaine
Elaine
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

The birthdays of hockey players was a popular example from the book, but the cultural legacies (the examples of Jewish vs. Irish immigrants) and being the opportune age at the right time (example, being in your young 20s at the boom of an industry) were two bigger takeaways for me.

Kristen
Kristen
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

Actually, I have read the book, and while circumstance is discussed, so is the need for practice, practice, practice. To become expert at something, he says, requires about 10,000 hours of practice. So effort IS VERY IMPORTANT. The hockey players in the example had an early advantage b/c of their birthdate, but become good players because of the practice they put in over the years – more than their less advantaged (at the beginning) peers.

Kenny
Kenny
8 years ago

1. Setting Goals in a document and reviewing/editing it every 6 months. Works for kids from 8th grade onwards. 2. Teaching kids how to invest with the little money that they have. Sharebuilder is a great account for this. 3. Ensuring that parents and grandparents do NOT buy stuff for kids without it being a reward of some kind, so that they know that “Every Action has a Reaction” with a true sense of positiveness and reward attached to it. And, this is for things like iPods, Tablets, Laptops, Car, Big-Toys, New Bed etc. 4. Rewards for Each A Grade… Read more »

Anne
Anne
8 years ago

Can we have some articles about raising children by people who have raised children, are raising children or at least know something about child development? One grown woman’s sentimental assessment of her own childhood as some kind of prescription for success is not what I want to read. Bribing a four year old to sit a listen to wealth building audio tapes is insane advice. I also love how it never occured to the author that her father’s interest in those books might have been the reason she was interested too. Hardly shocking. But certainly not predictable for every kid.… Read more »

Nina
Nina
8 years ago

These are some of the things we do with our two-year-old: 1. We encourage empathy and label emotions. When he’s throwing a fit, we say it looks like he’s feeling upset, and when he’s laughing his head off we say it seems that he’s happy. When he sees other kids cry, we explain sadness and what made them sad. 2. We read and borrow children’s books from the library on a weekly basis. We read casually and comfortably so it’s not regimented, and he loves reading. 3. We don’t have TV and we don’t let him play with iPhones or… Read more »

Patrick
Patrick
8 years ago
Reply to  Nina

There is a lot of great advice in these comments and in the article. As I was reading the comments, I noticed nobody had mentioned teaching empathy. So, rather than reading every comment, I Ctrl+F searched for “empathy” on the page and found your comment. 🙂 Thank you for mentioning it. I’d like to add to your point of empathy and extend it beyond empathizing with emotions, but also to context and circumstances. Being able to understand another persons point of view, I believe, is one of the most undervalued life skills and is critical to developing a sound moral… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Awesome 🙂 Hold onto that definition, and thank you for the reality check.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

Can we have some articles about raising children by people who have raised children, are raising children or at least know something about child development?

Seriously. My dad is an electrical engineer that designs alarm systems. Guess how qualified I am to write an article about alarm system design?

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

I’m not sure I particularly want to read articles on GRS about raising children. Raising savers or entrepreneurs, possibly, having enough money to afford X, Y, or Z goals for children, definitely (especially if one realizes that others may have completely different goals and that’s ok), but more generally raising children… there’s enough basis-less judgmental disagreeing advice on the internet about raising kids as it is. GRS doesn’t need to add on to the mommy-guilt industrial complex.

Me
Me
8 years ago

Natalie – great post. I really enjoyed it.

Jacq
Jacq
8 years ago

I let my son fail, be broke and go hungry for a little while when he was in his early(ier) 20’s. It lit a fire under him unlike anything I’d tried along the lines of encouraging.

First+Step
First+Step
8 years ago

Unless the title was changed after the article was posted, it does say, “5 UNUSUAL Ways…” As with any advice, what works for some families won’t work for others. Last I noticed, no one has found the perfect parenting formula. Let’s all do the best we can, learning and adapting as we go. Also, guilt is self-inflicted, and it’s best felt in moderation or not at all.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  First+Step

If that’s the case, it makes me sad that giving unconditional love and demonstrating a strong work ethic are considered “unusual”.

First+Step
First+Step
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Spend some time volunteering with kids and you’ll see that many have never known unconditional love or witnessed a strong work ethic from their parents or other family members. And you’re right, it is sad.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  First+Step

Or teaching! Many kids succeed in spite of their upbringing. I’ve seen at-risk teens pull their lives together thanks to the support of their friends and teachers.

Mind you, I’ve also seen plenty of kids who don’t have a strong work ethic despite the best efforts of their parents. (Including one of my siblings — he learned in the workplace, not at home or school.)

laila
laila
8 years ago

Thanks, Natalie. I have a 3 y.o. daughter and this is exactly what I needed. =)

krantcents
krantcents
8 years ago

Involving my children in my life and businesses as well as spending time with them is about 95% OF IT. My children are successful adults. I asked them what did we do, if anything to cause their success. They told me they observed how we handled things. In other words children what you do and copy it. Role modeling is very important!

Priswell
Priswell
8 years ago

One of the best things we ever did for our son was read aloud to him when he was small. We read all kinds of books, for about 20 minutes at a time, and at least a couple of times a day. He’d sit next to us for a little while, but then he’d slide down to the floor and play with his Legos while he listened. We knew he was still listening, because he laughed at the funny parts, and sometimes would stop to ask questions. Mom leaned towards one kind of story book, and Dad leaned towards another,… Read more »

jason mark
jason mark
8 years ago

Thanks for the article. I’m surprised to see the backlash about kids being involved in “grown up learning”. My mother and my grandmother before her showed me that you treat kids like humans first and children second. As a parent of 4 I can tell you kids enjoy learning at ANY level. We offer “points” to our kids (not money) for doing things that develop character. Some kids respond to that, others don’t. Some take the challenge to learn a song on the piano, some don’t. I think more importantly than the specifics of parenting here are: a) Respect your… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  jason mark

As a parent of four I’m surprised you haven’t seen the back-lash before. You must not hang out a lot with other parents! Or maybe different parents. Or just different people entirely. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/another-parenting-discussion-probably-controversial-though-i-wish-it-werent/

I totally agree with you. Learning is fun and not mutually exclusive from playing. I disagree about only playing to strengths and not to weaknesses– Mindset by Carol Dweck has some research on that.

KM
KM
8 years ago

Obviously unconditional love, encouraging questions and lots else in this article are hardly “unusual” ways to raise kids (I hope). I stressed massive amounts of reading and very little TV with my kids, and I think that was the main thing that made them successful. If you can read quickly and really well, you will automatically do well in school, and you also have the ability to educate yourself about anything you need to know from the time you are a teenager into the future, from beekeeping to personal finance. Give a kid a lesson in personal finance and that’s… Read more »

Krista B.
Krista B.
8 years ago

I love point number four. I think teaching kids the value of hard work to be one of the most important lessons parents can teach their children. I have a father very similar to you who taught me by example how to value hard work and to take pride in all things I pursue.

jay
jay
8 years ago

April what books did your parents start you out on and what are some books you recommend for 4-5 year olds? thank you

bob
bob
8 years ago

Send them to bed without any dinner.

rebecca
rebecca
8 years ago

What an informative and encouraging post. As a mother, I’ve of course have been reading up on how to books for good child rearing advice but this tops it all- well with the exception of “How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. The aforementioned book and this post actually are well aligned and complement each other. Thanks for such great info.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago

Just read this. Brilliant.

One tip only:

#3 should be #1. That’s the key to… pretty much everything.

Max
Max
8 years ago

For me the work ethic is probably the most important thing to teach. As parents and teachers, we need to show that to our kids ourselves.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Colin Powell

Aniket
Aniket
8 years ago

I think these tips are very generic and can be applied for team building or even talent specific roles.
other than that I wouldn’t apply these rules or this set of logic with a generation as dynamic as the current one. Nowadays it’s more about worst case scenario and adaptation to those scenarios(in most cases they are worst case because of over sensitive responses).

Pam at MoneyTrail
Pam at MoneyTrail
8 years ago

What a powerful lesson your dad taught you with the lawn mowing! That story is going to stay with me as I raise my four kids. I totally get your point about making kids powerful. Several years ago, we were desperately trying to housebreak our new puppy. It was quite a time consuming task. We offered a sizable amount of money to any of our four kids to train the dog. Only one of our kids chose to do it; he was 9 years old at the time. After two weeks, he was successful and is still very proud three… Read more »

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

This is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. I can’t wait to check out your blog Natalie. I wish I had read this when my kids were young.

I’d love to read this type of advice for parents of adult children. How can we use our assets, wisdom, and knowledge to help them in appropriate ways now that they are adults?

Meg
Meg
8 years ago

I’m a parenting educator, and although I liked some of these suggestions, I was surprised that a parent who didn’t pay his child to do chores (I agree – children should be expected to pitch in as a member of the family), would pay a child to read! That doesn’t send the right message about acquiring knowledge.

Ann
Ann
8 years ago

I love this. I am afraid that people forget their children will one day be adults and need to make adult decisions. Therefore they don’t arm them with the tools they need to succeed. I have done three things I am very proud of with my children. 1. I taught them to be independent. 2. I never lie to them, or as we like to say, I never blow smoke. If they are good at something I praise them. If they aren’t, I don’t lie and say they are. This teaches them to work harder for the things they want… Read more »

twothingsilearnedtoday
twothingsilearnedtoday
8 years ago

Great Post.

You hit the nail on the head with your comments about teaching kids to be powerful. My wife and I try to frame this around goal-setting, practice and learning as a way to eliminate negative self-talk. Your post inspired me to link/comment on your article within my own blog today.

Duncan Faber
Duncan Faber
7 years ago

The key to raising a happy child is weening them off tv. We use audiobooks for that. They’re far more engaging than television. We downloaded a bunch for free at this site. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/stories-for-kids. Anything that engages their brain and imagination is better than the idiot box, imho.

Miniclip
Miniclip
7 years ago

Keep up the good work. I love the pics!

William Medina
William Medina
6 years ago

The key to most successful children is a parent who is involved. The second and third ingredient to successful children is what they learn about learning. Learning should be understood as something that is of grave importance and at the same time — it is fun. Children also need to learn that failure is part of learning. Many children fear failure and avoid it, while successful children do not fear failure, they see it as a challenge, an opportunity to see where they need help and they learn from their mistakes. This article was very good and on point, it… Read more »

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