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The Secret of Parenting, According to a Nobel Laureate

Want
your kids to succeed in life? What parent doesn’t? That’s why we have
helicopter parenting,
Tiger
Moms
, Panda
Dads
and so on and so forth.

But what is the secret to creating happy children that grow up into successful
adults? According to Nobel laureate and economist James Heckman, the secret
to good parenting is actually less of it:

So what can parents do to help their children develop skills like motivation
and perseverance? The reality is that when it comes to noncognitive
skills, the traditional calculus of the cognitive hypothesis—start
earlier and work harder—falls apart. Children can’t get better
at overcoming disappointment just by working at it for more hours. And
they don’t lag behind in curiosity simply because they didn’t start
doing curiosity work sheets at an early enough age.

Instead, it seems, the most valuable thing that parents can do to help
their children develop noncognitive skills—which is to say, to
develop their character—may be to do nothing. To back off a bit.
To let our children face some adversity on their own, to fall down and
not be helped back up. When you talk today to teachers and administrators
at high-achieving high schools, this is their greatest concern: that
their students are so overly protected from adversity, in their homes
and at school, that they never develop the crucial ability to overcome
real setbacks and in the process to develop strength of character.

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Date
September 11th, 2012

Author
Stranger to the World

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