Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman do an excellent job of rounding up the latest research in their book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.
Here are my highlights:
1) Praise Kids For Effort, Not Smarts
Praise kids for something they can easily control — the amount of effort they put in.
This teaches them to persist and that improvement is possible.
But praising too often can be a problem.
If a child’s persistence is based only on rewards like praise; when the praise stops, the effort stops.
Best thing to do? Be like a slot machine. Praise intermittently.
2) Make Sure They Get Their Sleep
Losing an hour of sleep reduces your sixth-grader’s intelligence to that of a fourth-grader.
If continued long enough, sleep issues can cause permanent problems. Teens surliness may actually be due to chronic sleep deprivation.
And staying up late on the weekends is problematic too. Weekend shift causes a drop of 7 IQ points — the equivalent of lead exposure.
A study of over 3000 high school students showed a clear correlation between sleep and grades.
(More on good sleep here.)
3) How To Raise Honest Kids
No, you don’t know when your kid is lying. That’s your parental ego.
Kids want to please you. Tell them that the truth makes you happy – not just the right answer — and you’re more likely to get the truth.
What’s a quick trick for getting your kid to be honest?
Say: “I’m about to ask you a question. But before I do that, will you promise to tell the truth?”
4) Kids Need Rules
It’s a myth that being too strict causes rebellion and being permissive equals better behavior.
Parents who set ground rules and consistently enforce them were also the parents who were the warmest.
And their children lied less than most kids.
That doesn’t mean you should be a Tiger Mom.
Parents that are too controlling = kids that are bored. And bored kids are the ones who drink and do drugs
5) Arguing With Teens Is Normal — And Healthy
Moderate conflict with teens produces better adjustment than none.
More than 3/4 of daughters felt arguments with their mother strengthened the relationship.
6) Fighting In Front Of The Kids Can Be Good
Fighting with your spouse in front of the kids can be a good thing — if the children see the argument resolved in front of them.
Fighting and sending the kids away before it’s resolved — that’s what causes problems.
7) A Gratitude Journal Works Magic
I’ve posted before about the incredible benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. It works for kids too.
Students who kept a gratitude journal were happier, more optimistic, and healthier.
Here are three other research-backed posts that can help build a great family:
- How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research
- Recipe For A Happy Marriage: The 7 Scientific Secrets
- Parent myths: How much of what your parents told you was wrong?
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.