• Dr. Bill Walker

Parents! Want To Raise Successful Kids? Science Says Do These 6 Things (Pt. 2)

Any caring parent wants their child to grow up and be successful.

The problem is your child’s world is filled with ‘stuff’, like smart phones and Netflix, that don’t care about their success.

Fortunately, there are many trained child development experts studying daily to discover how parents can be positive influencers on their children.

In a previous article (read here) we examined 3 of 6 effective strategies - backed by science - parents can use to help their child become successful in life. In this article, we discuss Strategies #4-6.

[A Quick Review of Strategies #1-3]

If You Want To Raise a Successful Child:

I. Develop a Loving Relationship with Your Child

II. Teach Your Child Social Skills

III. Make Your Kids Do Chores

Here are 3 MORE strategies parents can use to increase their child’s chances for success in life.

IV. Finish High School Yourself

A conclusive body of research has established that mothers who complete high school are significantly more likely to have children who also finish high school. Children of mothers who did not complete high school are less likely to graduate themselves.

In our current society a lack of a high school education makes it close to IMPOSSIBLE for a child to grow up and achieve common indicators of success.

If you are a mother who did not finish high school start working on your GED as soon as possible. This will send a strong message to your child that you value a basic education.

V. Have High Expectations For Your Child

There is a saying: ‘Our children will rise to the expectations we set for them

Children love to please their parents and to know that their parents are proud of them. The major way to make this happen is to meet our parent’s expectations for us. I have worked with many individuals in counseling who made this disheartening statement: “My dad (or mom) never told me they were proud of me”. It should be little surprise these individuals are in counseling for emotional issues.

By giving our children high expectations we send them the message that we think they are capable of being successful in life.

To tell a child you have low expectations for them is to tell them you don’t believe in them, nor think they have much value in life. This is emotional/psychological abuse on a parent’s part and is about as low as a parent can sink.

The research has confirmed over and over that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on their child's later success in life.

UCLA Professor Neal Halfon compared the standardized test scores of children split into 2 groups: those whose parents expected them to go to college and those whose parents did not. 96% of the kids in the group that scored the highest on the tests had parents who expected them to go to college. In the group that performed the worst, only 57% had parents who expected the same.

Importantly - the parents' expectations of their children were recorded before these parents knew their child's test scores.

Halfon concluded that parents who expected their child to go to college seemed to manage their child toward that goal - regardless of limiting factors such as having the financial means to pay for college. And their kids responded in kind.

In psychology, this is known as the Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

VI. Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Spouse

Families where the parents frequently fight with one another are called high-conflict families. Children raised in these high-conflict families are negatively affected in their social and emotional, and even physical development. Most disturbing, research finds these negative effects continued to impact these children all the way into adulthood.

Trying to escape this conflict through divorce presents a whole new set of negative effects on children. Many studies find that children suffer negative emotional and social harm when parents divorce.

In one study, young adults whose parents had divorced 10 years earlier continued to report emotional pain and distress over their parents’ divorce 10 years later.

Parents who make a successful effort to resolve their conflict with one another ensure that their children avoid the lasting negative effects of conflict and divorce that can interfere with their success in life.


Christianly Speaking

* COMPLETING high school is not a biblical issue. Doing so usually does represent the minimum effort at being able to attain the basic skills to help and support our family members.

But - the usefulness of this accomplishment can vary widely from country to country. In developed nations it is an important goal to be attained.

* SETTING expectations for our children IS a biblical requirement. Parents are required to teach and prepare their children for life.

Parents are commanded to "train up a child in the way he should go", (Proverbs 22:6).

Parents (fathers specifically) are told:

"Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4, CEV) [Note: "hard" is a relative term]

God expects us as parents to set expectations for our children - expectations for both, spiritual and earthly success. Of course, 'success' should be defined according to the Bible, not the world.


* HUSBANDS and wives should make it their goal to have a loving relationship and marriage. This is for not only their own benefit, but the benefit of their children.

Husbands are commanded, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". (Ephesians 5:25)

The Bible instructs older women to "teach the younger women to love their husbands" (Titus 2:4, ESV).

True love for one another should act as a protector against any marriage becoming a 'high-conflict' relationship.

Yes - husbands and wives will sometimes disagree and argue, but Christ-like love for one another should prevent this from becoming a disrespectful, character-assaulting type of argument.

The Bottom Line

Parents, there is no greater influence in whether your children will be successful in life or not than YOU!

Consider these 3 additional strategies to help your child become the best person they can!

Before You Go

I want to hear what YOU have to say! Please share your reactions to this article by making a comment.

--Can parents place too high of expectations on their children?

--Should parents argue in front of their children?

What is your opinion?

I’ll be waiting to hear,

--dr. bill



#parenting #kids #successfulchildre