When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend’s dad told me “congratulations, you’ll never sleep again.” I laughed and naively thought that my kid would be different.

Two kids later and sleep ranks up there with potty training as one of the toughest aspects of parenting. Nobody seems to get enough, and the struggle is daily.

Early To Bed Is Best For Everyone Involved

But a study confirms why all those bedtime battles are indeed worth it. When kids go to bed early, they are healthier and mom is happier.

This may seem like common sense, but science has confirmed its truth with the Growing Up in Australia study, during which researchers tracked thousands of families beginning in 2004. Every two years, these families took part in a series of interviews that allowed researchers to check in on the state of their physical and mental health.

Analyzing the sleep and lifestyle data they collected, researchers found that children with early bedtimes — those asleep by 8:30 p.m. — had “better health-related quality of life.” And their moms had improved mental health, too.

Jon Quach, the lead author of the study, spoke to Today about the findings. “So mums and dads, getting kids to bed early is not just great for them. It’s good for you, too,” he said.

Makes sense to me. There’s nothing quite as sweet as the silence that falls on my house shortly after 8 p.m. That evening quiet time is a gift. A space in the day to recharge, relax and watch “The Bachelor” in peace.

Having kids is a mental and physical feat. When you add the mental load of jobs, marriage, home maintenance and some semblance of self-care to the list, it’s no wonder parents have some excess stress and fatigue in their lives.

Kids Who Go To Bed Earlier Tend To Sleep Longer

In addition to happy mommies, there are some real benefits to children as well. A U.S. poll featured on the National Institutes of Health website suggests that children who go to bed earlier also sleep longer.

And kids need a lot of sleep. Just look at this chart from the National Sleep Foundation, which shows the recommended number of hours of sleep kids should get each night:

What Can We Do To Get Our Kids To Bed Earlier?

First of all, researchers say we need to limit before-bed screen time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the blue light emitted from screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. Yikes!

To be safe, they recommend a digital curfew that would limit the use of TV, tablets, phones and computers one to two hours before bedtime.

The National Sleep Foundation also recommends a consistent bedtime routine. In our house, this includes a soothing bath and a good book. But whatever you choose to incorporate into your bedtime routine, know that a regular routine can set you and your child up for success. And this can start as early as infancy, so the sooner you can establish a routine, the better!

Other helpful hints for a good night’s sleep include ensuring your kids get plenty of exercise during the day, avoiding caffeine and keeping their rooms dark.


At this point it seems the evidence is overwhelming—new studies seem to arrive on our desks each week that suggest simply spending time in green spaces can improve our health, both mentally and physically. As avid outdoors people, we instinctively know that, but it’s always nice to have science confirm our suspicions. And recently, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark published yet another study about the outside/good health connection that may provide the most conclusive evidence yet. Getting outside, walking around, hearing the rustle of trees, feeling the wind on our face, the rain on our backs, the sun on our skin—the more we do that as kids, the happier we are as adults, their study suggests. And this was one heck of a study.

From 1985 until 2013, the researchers combed data from one million Danish residents. They looked at everything from income to educational level, history of familial mental illness, as well as how much green space surrounded where the residents had grown up. Because they had so much data to work with, the researchers were able to try and control for socioeconomic factors—kids who grow up wealthier probably have more access to green space, for example. Yet even factoring those discrepancies in, researchers found that being raised surrounded by nature as a child meant a 55 percent lower incidence of developing mental health issues as adults. Even better, it seemed that the more time children spent in nature, the better as far as mental health outcomes were concerned.

If we were talking about a new medicine that had this kind of effect the buzz would be huge—these results suggest that being able to go for a walk in the park as a kid is just as impactful.

The researchers were able to use satellite data to examine how much green space surrounded the residences of the subjects in the study. It was as simple as noting that kids who grew up in areas surrounded by more visible vegetation meant better mental health outcomes as adults. Wilderness, public parks, even urban green spaces, it didn’t seem to matter. The ramifications could be massive for future city and regional planning.

“There is increasing evidence that the natural environment plays a larger role for mental health than previously thought,” said Kristine Engemann, who led the study. “Green space seemed to have an association that was similar in strength to other known influences on mental health, like history of mental health disorders in the family, or socioeconomic status.”

What the study can’t show, however, is why this should be the case. Is it simple proximity to trees and vegetation? Or is it likely that kids who had access to more natural environments were more likely to be outside, getting excercise, perhaps doing so in groups and forming strong social bonds that they carried with themselves to adulthood? Maybe spending time in nature taught self-reliance, resilience, patience.

Or could it be that something in nature speaks to us in a way that won’t show up on a scientific study? Doctors are prescribing nature walks for patients to help with chronic physical ailments. Mountain biking groups are healing mental illness sufferers. Surfing is a very real salve for veterans with severe PTSD and physical ailments. It probably shouldn’t be so surprising that growing up in a natural environment would also have powerful health benefits.

Perhaps there’s simply a real physiological connection to being more in tune with the natural world. It’s certainly something we feel when camping, when in the middle of the sea, when scaling a mountain peak, or even when lounging next to a lake.

“If we were talking about a new medicine that had this kind of effect the buzz would be huge,” said Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond. “But these results suggest that being able to go for a walk in the park as a kid is just as impactful.”


We should now have more reason for concern over the excessive use of technology among the young.

Kids’ smartphone use has risen dramatically, studies show. Children who spend too much time on smartphones and other electronic gadgets are at risk of mental health problems, scientists warn.

New studies suggest that an hour a day spent staring at a screen plays a significant part in the rise of anxiety and depression among children. Child psychologists are concerned.

Smartphones are making children less curious about what is happening around them. Our children need to get outside and engage with nature.

In restaurants or shopping malls, you will see that many kids don’t notice anything that is happening around them because they are so focused on their smartphones and tablets.

Connecting with the natural environment is essential. A strong connection to nature enhances emotional well-being. It helps children to develop insight, empathy, and compassion.

My heart hurt and was saddened when some parents narrated to me how their kids are on their phones all the time – in school, at home and even in bed at night.

They are becoming more aggressive and easily irritable. A parent mentioned how her child’s sleep pattern has been impaired. She is unable to get to sleep at night.

Experts suggest that tablets and smartphones can have an impact on children’s social and emotional development.

Previous research has found evidence that smartphone usage has deleterious effects on the brain. Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young phone addicts. The imbalance is similar to that seen in people experiencing mental illnesses.

The instant gratification and constant stream of play from a smartphone can overwhelm the brain and make kids have difficulty when it comes to paying attention and sticking to a task.

Excessive screen time has even been tied to bullying behaviours and many other school problems, even in little kids.

Some of the newer interactive games children play on phones or tablets cause dramatic shifts in behaviour. Smartphones have created a generation without manners.

Smartphones can take over the kids’ lives if parents allow it. It can really be difficult, but parents must always find ways of getting children off their phones and other electronic devices.

Kids need to develop their language skills, emotions, creativity and social skills. They need enough time for creative play and interactions with others in the world.

Children are great mimics so parents must regulate their own Internet, smartphone and media use at home.

Most of us get on the phone in front of our kids more than we need to. Staying off is a really simple way to get the message across that life doesn’t revolve around phones. There must always be family time. Humans learn best when engaged person-to-person.

Simply put, smartphones are impeding kids as young as two from learning moral values.

If we truly want a lastingly happy society as well as children that are kind, generous and compassionate, we all must make a conscious effort to curb kids’ phone addiction.


Every parent is faced with the challenging task of teaching their kids how to best manage their relationship with technology. While the lure of screens is real and ubiquitous for both kids and parents, raising kids with healthy boundaries around screens is becoming a huge cultural priority and as well as a necessity for healthy family dynamics.

We asked members of the Thrive community to share their best practices when it comes to unplugging and connecting with their children. They admit that it can be challenging to serve as screen time role models, yet their determination to set flexible boundaries and willingness to course correct show that it’s possible (and highly rewarding!) to develop device routines that work. Check out their tips about how to step away from screens and how to fill tech-free time in meaningful ways.

Make screen time more valuable

“They get screen time after they hit each mini goal. Exercise in the morning, then they get their iPad for a bit. Read a book for an hour, then they get their laptop for an hour. Go outside, bang sticks in puddles and come in covered in dirt — like kids should — then they get more screen time. Screen time doesn’t always mean garbage time, either. There is a difference between watching silly things on YouTube versus doing something creative, such as creating art on an app. It’s not just about the screen time; it’s also about what is happening on that screen.”

—James Philip, serial entrepreneur, Chicago, IL

Turn limited screen time into a special occasion

“While we are not afraid of screens, we make a point to value people and face-to-face time over devices. We pay attention to our daughter’s behavior and temperament as well. Screen time is not a daily given; it’s a privilege that is given at times and can be taken away. Drawing these lines has helped reduce power struggles. Knowing our limits is very important and, as a dad, I try to model that with my daughter by putting my cell phone away and limiting my own time with email or screens. My wife and I are also learning from other families and paying attention to what research says about the brain and childhood development. Lastly, when we do watch, we make it special. When we watch Frozen, we chill the house, bring out blankets and drink hot chocolate.”

—Josh Neuer, licensed professional counselor, Greenville, SC

Create no-screen-time family traditions

“To help our children unplug from devices, my husband and I will either take a drive to the beach for a nice long walk. Our children love exploring the beach for new sea shells to add to our collection. And when we don’t go to the beach, our other routine is a family dance session. We turn the music up loud and dance. Everyone picks their favorite song and it always brings a smile to our faces.”

—Anne Clark, business and life coach, Melbourne, Australia

Find a balance that works

“Technology is a last resort in our home. We have stacks of books, puzzles, coloring, legos, and stickers front and center, and we encourage our son to play outside in the mud and sand. But, we also realize there has to be a balance. Some days he wants to shut down his brain like we do with Netflix when he’s been working hard at school or playing all day at summer camp. We set time limits and set him up with videos in which he can learn about nature, animals, earth, and science. Sometimes, he sneaks in a fighting game or something his friends love and we have a discussion about why he likes it. For our family it’s about validation, communication, and understanding.”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content marketer, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

Lead by example

“I help my 10-year-old son unplug by setting a good example and practicing what I preach. It’s very challenging to do this even as an adult, so I know how addicting screen time can be for a child. We have some limitations on weekdays — we do not start our day with screens and at night, we have certain “active” hours. Right now, my son and I are following a Couch to 5K program in which we bike to our local library, hop in the pool, garden, or play soccer in the park. It’s quite unlikely that my son has more than one hour of screen time on weekday nights. During the weekends, these rules are a bit more lax and I try not to be so strict around his screen time. Instead, I try to engage in what he is watching or playing as an opportunity to learn more about his interests. Doing this provides me with the opportunity to suggest activities in alignment with those things, other than screen time.”

—Reegan Hebert, non-profit management, Southern ME

Set a summertime limit

“I make sure I tie screen time to something the kids enjoy learning about or a consequence (good or bad). When they know they cannot just pick up the device for relaxation, or ‘just because’, they severely limit their screen time. Both my kids also have a limit of two hours each day during the summer, and this includes all screen time. With my work, it would otherwise be very easy for us to slide into over use.”

—Aditi Wardhan Singh, entrepreneur, Richmond, VA

Plan weekend activities ahead of time to discourage mindless scrolling

“I managed my relationship with technology first by uncovering where and when I was spending too much time online. I used the screen time feature on my iPhone and ultimately came to the decision to deactivate Facebook. Then, I filled ‘screen time slots’ with simple activities such as eating breakfast at the table, playing catch in the pool, or visiting the library after camp and taking a walk after dinner. Planning weekends ahead of time has helped us trade mindless scrolling for activities that forge a deeper connection with our 5-year-old daughter. This weekend, we visited the American Museum of Natural History and The Vessel in NYC. Discussing dinosaurs instead of the latest YouTube show was a refreshing change!”

—Carolyn Montrose, team workshop leader, Haworth, NJ

Encourage kids to communicate with others face-to-face

“We’ve always laid out limits and expectations to avoid the battle of unplugging our children from their devices. When they were little and before they had smartphones, electronics were only allowed on the weekends with time limits. However, once they got older and their phones were used as a means of communication in addition to TV, video games, and social media access, we had to re-establish the rules of when and where we would allow it. Devices are not allowed at meals, activities, or any social functions that require face-to-face communication. And although nothing is foolproof, it’s been a pretty solid system. The goal is for our kids to appreciate and know how to communicate with people in the real world, instead of just a virtual one.” —Amy Debrucque, writer, Syracuse, NY


“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

This is the nugget of wisdom that so many of us were handed as children, and often the financial literacy education ended there. A new survey by CreditsCard.com found that one in four U.S adults with children under 18 said their parents provided no money lessons as a child.

In the case of money matters, ignorance is not bliss, and what you don’t know can hurt you. Research shows that children benefit from learning about how money works, beginning at a very young age, with some schools stepping up to tackle the issue in the classroom.

How can parents teach financial wisdom to their own children in a practical way that will benefit them for their whole lives?

We’ve compiled a list of tips from money experts — many of whom are also parents.

Explain where the money comes from

“When you’re teaching your kids about money, it’s important to teach them where it comes from. Money does not just come from mom and dad’s wallet,” says Rachel Cruze, personal finance expert and the co-author of “Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.” “When you work, you get paid. When you don’t, you don’t get paid.”

The key is to repeatedly demonstrate and demystify the relationship between work and money.

Preach the three principles: giving, saving and spending

“Once you’ve established that money comes from work, I recommend teaching your kids three basic principles when it comes to money — giving, saving and spending,” says Cruze.

“Giving is one of the most important of the three categories because you’re teaching them to feel the impact of helping others at a young age. That’s invaluable,” Cruze continues. “As for saving and spending, encourage your child to set aside some of their money to savings and some to spending each time they get paid. Remind them that once their money is gone, it’s gone. And yes, your kids will make mistakes, but it’s better that they make those mistakes under the safety of your roof.”

Have your child physically organize cash with three piggy banks

Kids (especially young ones) need tangible ways to understand abstract concepts, so it’s important to not just explain these three money principles, but give them concrete tools to practice them.

“Instead of just having one piggy bank for your child, get three, and label one ‘spend,’ one ‘save,’ and one ‘give’,” says Logan Allec, CPA and founder of the personal finance site Money Done Right. “Any time your child gets money — allowance, payment for completing a task, birthday money, etc., — encourage them to split the money up between all three banks. The key to this being educational is to allow your child to choose how they split the money, as well as what they do with it.”

This exercise is not only helpful in getting kids confident in money matters, it provides an opportunity for parents to have meaningful conversations with their kids about money management.

“Talk with them about both what they will do with their money as well as how they could have split their money up differently if an appropriate situation arises,” says Allec.”Ultimately, though, the decision should be up to your child.”


Think twice before tracking your kids, says University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Joel Michael Reynolds.

LOWELL, Massachusetts: The use of self-tracking and personal surveillance technologies has grown considerably over the last decade.

There are now apps to monitor people’s movement, health, mindfulness, sleep, eating habits and even sexual activity.

Some of the more thorny problems arise from apps designed to track others, like those made for parents to track their kids.

For example, there are specific apps that allow parents to monitor their child’s GPS location, who they call, what they text, which apps they use, what they view online and the phone number of their contacts.

As a bioethicist who specialises in the ethics of emerging technologies, I worry that such tracking technologies are transforming prudent parenting into surveillance parenting.

Here are three reasons why.

COMPANIES ARE TRACKING FOR PROFIT

The first reason has to do with concerns over the tech itself.

Tracking apps are not primarily designed to keep children safe or help with parenting. They are designed to make money by gathering loads of information to be sold to other companies.

A 2017 report from a marketing research firm estimates that self-monitoring technologies for health alone will reach gross revenues of US$71.9 billion by 2022.

The lion’s share of the profit is not in the device itself, but in the data drawn from its users.

To get as much data as they can, these apps work hard to keep one constantly using them via push notifications and other design techniques.

This data is then often sold to other companies – including advertising agencies and political campaign firms. The primary aim of these devices is not people’s well-being, but the profit that can be made off of their data.

When parents track children, they help companies maximise their profits. Should a child’s information become de-anonymised and fall into the wrong hands, this could put one’s child at risk.

RISKS OF LEAKING PRIVATE DATA

There are also significant privacy risks.

A 2014 study by the security firm Symantec found that even devices that do not appear to be traceable can still be tracked wirelessly, as a result of insufficient privacy features.

That same year, a study by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that many Android mobile health applications, for example, send unencrypted information over the Internet. Nearly all of these apps monitor one’s location.

Researchers at MIT and the Catholic University of Louvain found that just four time-stamped locations could uniquely identify 95 per cent of individuals, making promises of anonymity hollow.

Information related to people’s whereabouts can reveal valuable data about them. In the case of children, their tracking data could very easily be used by someone else.

IT CAN BREAK TRUST

Another reason why tracking one’s child is worrisome has to do with the risk of breaking their trust.

Social scientists have shown that trust is central to close relationships, including healthy parent-child relationships. It is necessary for the development of commitment and feelings of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a crucial component of this trust.

A 2019 study shows monitoring a child can undermine the sense of trust and bonding. In fact, it can become counterproductive to the point of pushing the child further towards rebellion.

This risk, I would argue, is perhaps far more serious than those leading parents to track their children in the first place.

A FEW EXCEPTIONS

While I think that tracking one’s child is often unethical, there are some cases where it may be warranted.

If a parent has good reasons to suspect that their child is suicidal, involved in violent extremism, or engaged in other activities that threaten their life or that of others, the best course of action may involve breaking trust, invading privacy and monitoring the child.

But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Think twice before tracking your kids.


The little wiggly worms and jumping beans are wiggly and jumping for an actual reason and developmentally it’s near impossible for primary school and pre-school aged children to sit still.

Asking your child to sit still seems part and parcel with being a parent. As they wiggle their way around the couch, car, at the dinner table, at the movies or as they kick the seat of the passenger in front on them on the plane, bus or train, 99 percent of parents all around the world ask, “can’t you just sit still?” While simultaneously apologising to whoever they have inadvertently hurt (or annoyed).

It turns out though the answer is, NO, they Can’t

The little wiggly worms and jumping beans are wiggly and jumping for an actual reason and according to research (and lots of it not only is it developmentally near impossible for primary school and pre-school aged children to sit still), it can actually have a negative impact on their learning.

Parenting educator, former teacher and author, Michael Grose says, “little kids aren’t designed for sitting for long periods of time” and movement is actually an important part of their “brain development.”

“Movement actually stimulates the brain at this age, it goes hand in hand,” Grose told Kidspot. Anatomically, movement actually helps the brain to work. Because movement creates more oxygen and blood flow to the brain it creates more optimal function. It also releases chemicals that promote focus, memory, motivation and mood; all fundamental in the art of learning.

The first sensory systems to mature in humans are actually those in charge of the cerebellum (motor activity) and the vestibular (spatial orientation). Simply put, we are wired to learn by moving and interacting with our environment, not by sitting still.

Movement Can Help Learning

Movement also assists primary school and pre-school aged children with learning because it engages more of the brain in the learning process, creating arousal or the “lighting up” of the brain says Grose. This allows learning to be more productive and for children to retain more information.

Movement can be a range of things from moving from one space to another in a classroom, going outside for a period of time, using blocks or other tangible objects that can be touched as a part of the learning, singing a song with matching movements or even a game of Simon Says. The use of “kinaesthetic learning or learning by movement engages children in learning and it makes sense to them,” Grose explained.

According to a 2016 Paediatrics study : “Physical activity especially physical education, improves classroom behaviors and benefits several aspects of academic achievement, especially mathematics-related skills [and] reading.”

“Learning isn’t just from the classroom”

As we know learning isn’t just from the classroom either, it is from the world around us so getting out and moving around can help us learn in whole new way and teach us a whole new set of things.

Not only does movement encourage effective learning it can also assist in reducing behavioural issues that impact learning because it “gets rid of the wriggles.” Physical activity makes children less fidgety and more on task. So, when children do need to sit still and concentrate for a particular activity, like listening to a story, they can.

Playing or physical activity from walking, non-competitive ball games, stretching, a rough and tumble game of football, digging in a sand pit, negotiating the monkey bars or building a cubby house, is also learning and the importance of that should not be underestimated for many reasons, including biologically. Research shows that physical play allows children to make mistakes, handle stress, conflict resolution, social skills, emotional intelligence, it is also a proven elevator of mood.

An additional benefit of movement for learning is with children with additional needs, “particularly those on the Autism spectrum” Michael says. There is also evidence to show great benefit of movement to children who suffer from dyslexia with improvements in dexterity, reading and verbal communication.

So, with movement being so fundamental to children with a wide variety of needs and to their learning “switching things up” and “not having kids sitting for too long”, as Grose encourages, is incredibly important even if the wiggly worms and jumping beans occasionally drive us a tad insane.


There isn’t a set recipe for parents on how to raise a successful child. However, research points to several factors that could help.

Most parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to live successful lives as adults.

And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success.

Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Keep reading to take a look at what parents of successful kids have in common.

Drake Baer contributed to a previous version of this article.

They make their kids do chores

“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Live event.

Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

They teach their kids social skills

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.

The 20-year study showed that children who could cooperate with their peers, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.

Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing.

“This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release.

“From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.”

They have high expectations

Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment.

“Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” Halfon said.

The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college.

This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

They have healthy relationships with each other

Children in high-conflict families tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review.

A nonconflictual single-parent family is better for children than two-parent families with conflict, according to the review.

But, conflict between parents before and after a divorce can affect children negatively.

Another study in this review found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorce ten years later.

They’re educated

A 2014 study from the University of Michigan found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same.

Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten from 1998 to 2007, the study found that higher levels of maternal education predicted higher achievement from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A different study from Bowling Green State University suggested that the parents’ education levels when a child is 8 years old “significantly predicted” the education and career level for the child four decades later.

They teach their kids math early on

A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage.

“The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

They develop a relationship with their kids

A 2014 study of 243 children born into poverty found that those who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years did better in academic tests in childhood than those who did not receive the same parenting style.

Those children also had healthier relationships and greater academic achievement.

“This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said.

They value effort over avoiding failure

Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment.

Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this:

  • A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
  • A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

Dweck’s mindset theory has attracted valid critiques over the years, but the core tenant of believing that you can improve at something is important to encourage in children

The moms work

According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

“There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, who led the study, told Working Knowledge.

Daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to peers raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found.

But, working mothers aren’t necessarily spending every waking minute outside of work with their children. Women are more likely to feel intense pressure to balance child rearing with workplace ambitions. Ultimately, they spend more time parenting than fathers do.

A 2015 study found the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement.

In fact, the study suggests that it’s actually harmful for the child to spend time with a mother who is sleep-deprived, anxious, or otherwise stressed.

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study co-author and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Washington Post.

It could be more beneficial to spend one fully-engaged hour with a child than spend the whole evening half-listening to your kid while scrolling through work emails.

They have a higher socioeconomic status

One-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.”

As social scientist Dan Pink wrote, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids.

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” Pink wrote.


In a letter to child development experts, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, outlined some of the difficulties new parents experience after welcoming their children into the world.

The comments from the former Kate Middleton came as her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened up about his own struggles with mental health in a BBC documentary.

The duchess said she appreciated the “sense of isolation” new parents face, writing: “I can understand that people are nervous about asking for help for fear of judgment, and how that sense of isolation can quickly become overriding and debilitating for any new parent,” reported Sky News.

“Recognizing that the task of parenting is substantial, I have realized the importance of working to make it easier for parents to request support.”

The duchess sent the letter to a steering group she set up last year to compile research on early child development. Praising the experts’ work, she said she would continue to promote the health and happiness of families and children.

She wrote, per Harper’s Bazaar: “Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with mothers and fathers about the issues they deal with day-to-day. Your work has affirmed to me just how important it is to listen to parents and those who care for children… I hope my long-term commitment to working in the early years will help make a difference over a generational timescale.”

On Monday, the duchess unveiled a multisensory garden at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London. The woodland wilderness, which is intended to promote children’s well-being, includes a rope swing, a campfire and a stream. According to the BBC, the Cambridge children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louise—helped gather twigs and moss for the garden.

Catherine told the BBC: “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental well-being, particularly for young children.

“I really hope this woodland that we have created inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”

The duchess visited the garden with her children and husband over the weekend, before returning with a group of schoolchildren Monday. She worked on the garden with landscape architects Andree Davies, Adam White and the Royal Horticultural Society.

William detailed his own struggles with mental health in a BBC One documentary called A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health. In the film, which aired Sunday, the duke discussed the difficulties he experienced after his mother’s death in 1997.

Describing “pain like no other pain,” he said his own bereavement had helped him connect with families experiencing trauma when he worked as an air ambulance pilot.

Although the “British stiff upper lip thing” has its place, we need “to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re not robots,” he said.


Gone are the days of trusty Moleskine 18-month planners, scraps of to-do lists and family calendars hanging on the fridge. Full-time jobs and older kids mean more clubs, more appointments, more social life. Making a move to digital organization can take a load off and breathe new life into the family.

It’s never too early to help children learn to manage their time and be responsible for themselves too (to a point, obviously). It’s a skill that will help them on their path through life. And it’s surprising how little you need to do to organize family life. Often you have the apps and software on hand — you just need to rethink how you use them.

Digital Calendars

For many, this is the obvious starting point. You’re probably already using a calendar from Google, Outlook or iCloud for work, so it’s simple enough to add a family one. As the kids get older and their social lives start getting more hectic, give each of them a shared calendar of their own.

Using a shared calendar means you can arrange their clubs, events and playdates, and the kids, in theory, just need to check their phones to know if something is — or isn’t — happening. You can set notifications and alerts to remind them to get to that music lesson or swim meet. Connect their phones to a smartwatch and they’ll get the message even when their phone is silent.

You’ll be sorting their lives out initially, but steadily, they’ll realize they can take control of their calendars. Maybe start by having them load their school schedule. It’s good practice to get them into the habit of checking their calendar the night before, so they can pack their bag and be ready to take it in the morning.

For you, the color-coded calendars are not unlike Mrs. Weasley’s clock: You can see where everyone is at one glance. And everyone can see their own calendar as well as the shared family one on their phone, which, let’s face it, is attached to them anyway.

Whatsapp

You’d think having everything right there in the palm of their hand would mean you can step back and watch them bloom into competent, organized young humans. Ha! Calendar’s all set up, but ping: “Mommy, when’s my drums lesson?” Ping: “Daddy, I forgot my football kit, could you drop it off, PURLLLEASE!” Ping: “Mommy, I’ve run out of money on my lunch card, could you load it, please?”

WhatsApp has probably been the single most-used way of keeping things moving smoothly in this house.

Some parents have a problem with WhatsApp and similar messaging apps — the minimum age of use for WhatsApp is 16 in Europe and 13 elsewhere — but it is what you make it. Of course, it’s vital you know whom your children are talking to, so when you’re setting rules for phone use, let them know that as parents, you can check their phone whenever the mood takes you. It’s also a great way to talk about friendships and what’s happening in their world. But for many, WhatsApp is how they keep in touch with extended family and share location, photos and files.

So how can WhatsApp keep the kids on task and organized? Essentially, it’s a parent in your pocket.

Get a family group going, though, and anyone can answer those quick questions or check arrangements — it doesn’t have to be Mom, Dad or caregiver. Because in a busy world, one person can’t manage a whole family’s schedule all the time. A WhatsApp group gives siblings the chance to step in and help out too. “Yeah, duh, Mom said meet at 3.30 — not listening again, bro?”

To help them keep track of vital information like when and where to meet, show the kids how to star messages to mark them as important. If you send a message with tickets, pdfs, files or arrangements, start the message with “STAR THIS.” These messages are stored together, so the kids can get to them quickly without having to scroll through thousands of others in the thread.

WhatsApp’s location-sharing feature is fantastic too. You just have to open the group or person you want to share with, click on “attachment” or “plus” and hit “share location.” You can share your location for 15 minutes, an hour or eight hours, which gives the kids the freedom and independence to explore their corner of the world without you having to get all panicky.

Charging Banks

When they’re out and about, sharing locations, information and generally keeping in touch, kids’ phones take a beating. It’s little surprise when batteries run out. To keep everything functioning smoothly, a behemoth charging pack, capable of juicing a phone multiple times, can be a lifesaver. Unlike the single-charge banks, these monsters give you the peace of mind that the kids’ phones will never run out of juice — and they’ll never have any excuse for being disorganized.

Wearables

The perfect accessory for any budding organized child, a smartwatch or fitness tracker connected with a phone is ideal for ensuring they get alerts and notifications during the day, when their phones are silent, which of course, they should be during school. We like the Fitbit Ace 2, which was built specifically for kids.

For the kids who are already super active, simply having the time and alert functions are great — and the competitive element of nailing step counts is not a bad thing. For children who have more sedentary skill sets — music, art, academics — they’re a fantastic reminder to get out there and explore the world: Take a walk and get that step count up, go for a bike ride into the woods to find a landscape to paint, stretch out after being stuck over a desk, instrument or video game. And they don’t have to cost a fortune.

Homework Software

Most schools are now fully on board with homework and tools like Firefly, Show My Homework and Frog. Designed to improve organization, these apps and websites help parents and kids manage tasks, time and co-curricular experiences by sending emails and alerts. Kids get notifications when homework is set and reminders when it’s due. And parents can see homework, deadlines and additional support material. If only we had this at school in our day! If the professionals in charge of children think apps and software can help them get organized and stay on task, we should go all in too.

Wrap-up

The benefits of having a routine and developing independence are all over parenting websites and pedagogical studies. Whether it’s sleep training infants, potty training toddlers or helping teens navigate the hormone years, at the root of all the advice is to get a routine in place and support them in their independence. Yes, we should let kids screw up, forget things and deal with the consequences, but we should also give them the resources they need to develop the skills that will stay them for life.