Building better adults. The science is in.

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11. They’ve got some banknotes stuffed in the mattress –

This is perhaps unsurprising. It’s part of the circular argument encountered in 3 and 5. Simply put, more money – more opportunity. A child is more likely to be better off financially and attain academically if their parents clear the path towards these things. This is not to say a child can’t be successful without such advantages, but the barriers are greater and the struggle harder. This sounds like a narrow definition of success, but if we are honest, financial prosperity does make things easier. Money problems can be a source of conflict in relationships, for example, which finds us back at point 4. Taking the bigger picture, it can insulate our children from the uglier side of this world… living somewhere away from gangs and crime and other limiting effects of poverty. If we stopped to consider how relevant it is, it would probably make for a depressing read. However, there are important caveats here. If such advantages are not tempered by empathetic parenting and grounded in the larger world around them, the outcome for the child in question is not favourable. The life of an insufferable and entitled prima dona is ultimately an empty and unfulfilling one.

12: They are ‘authoritative’ rather than ‘authoritarian’ or ‘permissive’ –

First published in the 1960s, the University of California, Berkeley developmental psychologist Diana Baumride found there are basically three kinds of parenting styles. Permissive: The parent tries to be non – punitive and accepting of the child, Authoritarian: The parent tries to shape and control the child based on a set standard of conduct and Authoritative: The parent tries to direct the child rationally.

The ideal is the authoritative. The child grows up with a respect for authority, but doesn’t feel strangled by it.

13: They teach ‘grit’ –

It’s difficult to fully unpick this attribute, but it’s powerful and immediately known to all of us. It is that unquantifiable, indefinable quality that gives us the strength, courage and resolve to persevere in the face of real adversity and triumph against the odds. In the words of psychologist Angela Duckworth, winner of the MacArthur “genius” grant, “It’s about teaching kids to imagine — and commit — to a future they want to create.”

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