+
upworthy
Family

Harvard psychologists have been studying what it takes to raise 'good' kids. Here are 6 tips.

Help unlock your child's best self with a few tried-and-true strategies.

raise good kids, harvard parenting study, moral kids

Kids playing baseball with a slide into second.




A lot of parents are tired of being told how technology is screwing up their kids.

Moms and dads of the digital age are well aware of the growing competition for their children's attention, and they're bombarded at each turn of the page or click of the mouse with both cutting-edge ideas and newfound worries for raising great kids.


But beneath the madness of modernity, the basics of raising a moral child haven't really changed.

Parents want their kids to achieve their goals and find happiness, but Harvard researchers believe that doesn't have to come at the expense of kindness and empathy. They say a few tried-and-true strategies remain the best ways to mold your kids into the morally upstanding and goals-oriented humans you want them to be.

kids, toddlers, pacifiers, parenting

Entertaining the toddlers.

Cartoon by Sara Zimmerman/Unearthed Comics.

Here are six practical tips:

1) Hang out with your kids.

parenting advice, healthy habits, teachable moments

Cleaning the hands.

Image by Cade Martin/Public Domain Images.

This is, like, the foundation of it all. Spend regular time with your kids, ask them open-ended questions about themselves, about the world and how they see it, and actively listen to their responses. Not only will you learn all sorts of things that make your child unique, you'll also be demonstrating to them how to show care and concern for another person.

2) If it matters, say it out loud.

teamwork, educational games, Harvard

Teamwork in process.

Image by Steven Bennett/Wikimedia Commons.

According to the researchers, "Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren't hearing that message." So be sure to say it with them. And so they know it's something they need to keep up with, check in with teachers, coaches, and others who work with your kids on how they're doing with teamwork, collaboration, and being a generally nice person.

3) Show your child how to "work it out."

sports and exercise, team exercise, building confidence

Playing soccer.

Image by susieq3c/Flickr.

Walk them through decision-making processes that take into consideration people who could be affected. For example, if your child wants to quit a sport or other activity, encourage them to identify the source of the problem and consider their commitment to the team. Then help them figure out if quitting does, in fact, fix the problem.

4) Make helpfulness and gratitude routine.

problem solving, gratitude, healthy

Ingenuity for cleaning up.

Image by David D/Flickr.

The researchers write, "Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving — and they're also more likely to be happy and healthy." So it's good for parents to hold the line on chores, asking kids to help their siblings, and giving thanks throughout the day. And when it comes to rewarding "good" behavior, the researchers recommend that parents "only praise uncommon acts of kindness."

5) Check your child's destructive emotions.

negative feelings, emotional intelligence, honesty, understanding

An automatic save.

Image by Thomas Ricker/Flickr.

"The ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings," say the researchers. Helping kids name and process those emotions, then guiding them toward safe conflict resolution, will go a long way toward keeping them focused on being a caring individual. It's also important to set clear and reasonable boundaries that they'll understand are out of love and concern for their safety.

6) Show your kids the bigger picture.

empathy, families, researchers

A reflective moment by the ocean.

Image by debowcyfoto/Pixabay.

"Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends," say the researchers. The trick is getting them to care about people who are socially, culturally, and even geographically outside their circles. You can do this by coaching them to be good listeners, by encouraging them to put themselves in other people's shoes, and by practicing empathy using teachable moments in news and entertainment.

The study concludes with a short pep talk for all the parents out there:

"Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it's something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding."


This article originally appeared on 06.16.15

popular

People are baffled to find out they've been burning candles wrong their whole lives

There's an art to avoiding the "memory ring" that makes a candle tunnel around the wick.

The "tunnel" that often forms around a wick isn't supposed to be there.


The evolution of candles from lighting necessity to scented ambience creator is kind of funny. For thousands of years, people relied on candles and oil lamps for light, but with the invention of the light bulb in 1879, fire was no longer needed for light. At that time, people were probably relieved to not have to set something on fire every time they wanted to see in the dark, and now here we are spending tons of money to do it just for funsies.

We love lighting candles for coziness and romance, relishing their warm, soft light as we shrink from the fluorescent bulb craze of the early 2000s. Many people use candles for adding scent to a room, and there are entire candle companies just for this purpose (Yankee Candles, anyone?). As of 2022, candles were an $11 billion business.

With their widespread use, you'd think we'd know a thing or two about candles, but as a thread on X makes clear, a whole bunch of us have been burning candles wrong our entire lives without knowing it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Canva

Take pleasure in little things when you're raising kids.

As a parent, it sometimes feels like you're supposed to be fueled entirely by selfless love and a "spiritual connection" to your children.

But you know what? You matter, too! And there's nothing wrong with needing a little soul-nourishment that doesn't end with you on your knees scrubbing barf out of the carpet.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Woman goes to huge lengths to adopt husband's ex-wife's baby to save him from foster care

She had lived in foster care and didn't want it for the newborn with no name.

Christie Werts and her son, Levi


Christie and Wesley Werts have taken the idea of a blended family to the next level. When the couple fell in love five years ago and married, they brought together her children, Megan and Vance, and his children, Austin and Dakota.

As of January, the Ohio family has five children after adopting young Levi, 2. Levi is the son of Wesley’s ex-wife, who passed away four days after the child was born. The ex-wife had the boy prematurely, at 33 weeks, and died soon after from drug addiction and complications of COVID-19.

When Levi was born, he was a ward of the state with no first name or birth certificate.

Keep ReadingShow less

Can a dog really trust you?

Dogs can smell fear, but can they sniff out the truth? Your dog might actually be smarter than you're giving it credit for. It turns out, dogs are pretty good at picking up on human behavior. Science says so. A team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan conducted a study which found out that dogs actually know if you're to be believed or not.

The study involved tricking dogs in the name of science. Humans have known for a long time that if you point at an object, a dog will run to it. Researchers utilized this information in their study. During the experiment, they pointed at a container that was filled with hidden food. Sure enough, the dog ran towards the container. Then, they pointed at a container that was empty. The dogs ran towards it, but found that it had no food.

Keep ReadingShow less

A public service announcement from St. John Ambulance

Have you listened to the miscellaneous voices of your miscellaneous items on the floor lately?

Oh yours don't speak? Well these do.

Keep ReadingShow less
Image via Amanda Ripley/PopTech.

Map demonstrating scores of the Program for International Student Assessment for each state compared to a country that has similar scores.




This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically.

This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring countries. And yet, the U.S. spends more per student than many other countries in the world.

Keep ReadingShow less