We all want to be the best parents we can be, and we all want to raise successful children. When you look at research for how to do so, it seems there’s a lot of it out there. But, when you really take a look at research collectively, science has found that three basic things can make a big difference in successful parenting
New moms and moms-to-be get it everywhere–advice and suggestions for how to be the best parent and how to maintain the most successful parenting approaches. Well-intended, of course, that can be overwhelming and intimidating to say the least.
And, when you take collective looks at research, you find so many things point back to what the longest child development study in history points to: engaging with your children, reading to them and ensuring they get restorative sleep.
Author and scientific journalist Helen Pearson gave an encouraging TED talk in 2017 that shared some of the scientific suggestions for raising successful children. In it, she shared highlights from the British Cohort Studies–studies that followed over 70,000 children over the course of 70 years. Pearson’s book, The Life Project: How a group of mavericks, midwives, and pioneers changed the lives of everyone in Britain, digs deeper into the generational findings of successful children and good parenting from the study. The biggest finds turned out to be ones that confirmed what those who practice attachment parenting know–engagement matters!
In fact, the first of the three suggestions is simply that–be engaged with your children. Research shows that successful and happy children have parents who are engaged. They are listened to and talked with and their parents spend quality time in consistent manners. More, the engagement is sensitive to the needs of their children at different developmental stages. A parent does not have to know it all to be sensitive in sharing what all he or she knows, and engagement with your children starts the first day they are born.
Next, reading to your children makes a huge difference in your child’s overall success. As an added bonus to engaging with your child, reading to and with them not only creates intimacy and bonding, but promotes better success in school. Research shows benefits of reading to your child as early as nine-months-old and only grows stronger in correlation to success as children age. Dr. Daniel T. Willingham suggests that reading anything and everything to children without worrying about ‘teaching them to read or decode,’ can make a huge difference in their comprehension abilities in school and in life. Read to your children, even if just a few minutes a day. The benefits are life-long in their impact.
Last, research suggests that routines at bedtime and encouraging consistent bedtimes is important. Attachment parenting principles support consistent routines and making sure our children have consistent nighttime routines can help them unwind and get better, more restorative sleep. Our children’s brains do amazing things while they sleep, and ensuring them safe and supportive opportunities for this restoration helps them grow and thrive.