How to raise ‘good’ children, according to Harvard psychologists

Raising children is undoubtedly one of the most challenging things in life.

Knowing that your actions and words will play a huge role in your kids’ development definitely puts pressure on every parent. But if you think about it, raising a child gives you the amazing opportunity to teach them admirable qualities such as empathy, kindness, compassion, and appreciation of the world around them.

Just as any other parent, you are probably wondering how to raise your kids to be good people. Well, these Harvard psychologists might have the answers you need. They have conducted a study revealing the key ingredients when it comes to guiding your children to becoming benevolent adults.

Here are 5 key things you should do to raise good children, according to Harvard experts:

1. Spend quality time with your children.

Spending time with your kids is crucial when it comes to establishing a healthy relationship with them. You cannot expect them to become genuine, trustworthy, kindhearted people if you are never there to guide them. And when you are there, if you just give them a smartphone or a tablet to play games on while you’re doing your everyday chores at home, this would still not count as quality time.

If you want to form a strong bond with your children and raise them as good people, you should actually pay attention to them. For instance, you can play a board game, go for a walk, or simply talk about the things that excite them. The more you interact with your kids, the more you get to be there for the important moments.

2. Teach your children the significance of gratitude.

The more often we practice gratitude, the more generous and empathetic we become. Therefore, if you wish for your kids to be raised as good, kindhearted people, you should also teach them that they should be grateful for what they have. Appreciating the things they have and the people in their life who care for them will inevitably instill compassion, benevolence, and forgiveness in their minds.

According to the Harvard psychologists, parents usually praise their children only when they signify “uncommon acts of kindness.” However, you should not overlook the small gestures your kids make to express altruism. When you show them you are grateful for their kindness, they will follow your footsteps and show gratitude towards you and everyone else in their lives when in similar situations.

3. Be invested in your children’s lives.

As you spend more time with your kids, you will have the opportunity to find out what they love, what they hate, what they want to become when they grow up. In other words, you will know what’s going on in their lives. Therefore, you will have the chance to be invested in them by showing you care about their interests and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.

The Harvard researchers state:

“Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren’t hearing that message.” 

Simply put, it’s not enough to be caring in terms of providing your children a home, food on the table, and clothes to wear on their backs. You also have to care about the things they are enthusiastic about and support them whenever they need a little push to chase after their goals.

4. Teach your children how to solve problems without being anxious about the outcome.

Problem-solving is a key skill every child should be taught from a young age. And as a parent, it is your job to help your kids learn the importance of analyzing and solving problems. They should be able to handle some of their issues on their own, as you may not be there 24/7 to show them the way. Besides, allowing them to experience life lessons on their own will teach them how to deal with the challenges their adulthood holds.

What you should do is give them guidance and awareness when it comes to problem-solving. This will provide them the pattern, which they will follow when they grow up and they need to handle difficulties, moral dilemmas, and other obstacles on their own. If you push them to focus only on success and achieving ultimate happiness, they might not be prepared enough to enter adulthood with confidence.

Rick Weissbourd, leader f the study, says:

“We are hyper-focused on our kid’s happiness… The achievement pressure can have a bunch of negative results. I’m concerned that it makes kids less happy.”

5. Show your children how to focus on the bigger picture.

According to the researchers, “almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends.” To be able to show compassion with people outside these small circles, your children need to be guided. As their parent, you can teach them how to be good listeners, how to be patient with everyone they meet, and how to avoid being judgemental or mean. Giving them the opportunity to get to know different cultures is a great way to teach your kids empathy and help them become more open-minded.

Remember that the way you raise your children is crucial for their further development as adults. So, make sure you are there for the important moments and do the best you can to help them become compassionate, loving, and kindhearted human beings.

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