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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

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

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Parents are debating over whether to give children "adult" or "baby" names.

The names we choose to give our children can significantly impact their lives. Multiple studies from across the globe have found that a person’s name can influence their employment, social and economic outcomes.

Unfortunately, humans make snap judgments about one another, and having an unusual name can lead people to make unflattering assumptions. “We’re hardwired to try to figure out in a heartbeat whether or not we want to trust somebody, whether we want to run from somebody,” Northwestern University researcher David Figlio said, according to Live Science.

However, an increasing number of parents are giving their children non-traditional names to help them stand out. “Parents are trying to be original, almost branding their kids in an era where names are viewed on the same level as Twitter handles or a website URL,” writer Sabrina Rogers-Anderson said.

Ruby, a mother on TikTok, took a hard stance on parents giving their children names that sound childish in a post that’s received over 11 million views. Ruby says she named her kids as “adults, not babies” hoping they would never “outgrow” their names.

@rubyyvillarreal

#stitch with @nikkiruble love having nicknames as they are younger and it doesnt mean they will perfer it over their name as they get older. Just gives them options 🤷🏻‍♀️ #nicknames #babynames #babytok #adultnames #pregnancytiktok #toddlersoftiktok #momtok #momlife #babynames #babyname

“The whole concept when I was trying to look for a name and choose a name for her is I did not want her to outgrow her name,” she said in the viral video. “I wanted the name to fit her as a baby, as a toddler, as a child, and into adulthood. So, it's like I really am happy with what I ended up with naming her and it just fits her so well.”

She captioned the video, “love having nicknames as they are younger and it doesn’t mean they will prefer it over their name as they get older. Just gives them options.”

People in the comments responded with modern names they think that kids will outgrow.

"My name is Koazy and I’m here for a job interview," Stalker joked. "Hello sir, I am Bluey Mason Garrison! I was called in for a job interview last Tuesday," Pastel Purr added.

"I can’t imagine knowing [a] 30-year-old named Emma or Posie," Mikey wrote.

However, a lot of people commented that names that seem like they’ll be outgrown will sound fine in the future when those names are popular with the new generation. “Kids grow up with their generation having their own names on trend. They will be normal adult names when they are grown,” Kerry wrote.

“Names grow with the generation,” Lauren added. “The name Dennis sounded like a baby name once too. Names grow up just like generations.”

@rubyyvillarreal

Replying to @19eighty_5 my kids name and the process 😬 #babynames #nicknames #babytok #adultnames #momsoftiktok #momlife #momtok #pregnancytiktok #toddlersoftiktok #babyname #babyfever

In a follow-up video, Ruby shared the names she gave her children. Her girl is named Karla Esmerelda and her boy is called Deluca.

“I just really liked how simple, how bold, and strong that the name by itself just really kind of is. Doing some research names with the letter K tend to be like very bold and powerful names, so I really wanted it with a K and not with a C,” she said.

She named her son Deluca, after a doctor on “Grey’s Anatomy.” She said she chose the name because there was nothing to connect it to, and it sounded “nice.”


This article originally appeared on 4.26.23

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


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via @5kids5catssomedogstoo/TikTok

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When Emily Haswell had her first child a little over a year ago, she noticed that her mom seemed to need glasses but refused to see the eye doctor. Instead of nagging her mother who visits weekly to see her grand baby, Haswell decided she would pull a prank designed to force her mom to admit she needed glasses. The new mom decided to share the results of her prank on her social media pages.

Haswell admitted to her followers that her mother not only visited once a week to see the baby but would ask for daily pictures of her new grandchild. But instead of sending pictures of her daughter, Sadie every time, Haswell started sending pictures of random babies she found on the internet to see how long it would take for her mom to notice.

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A TikTokker named Grizzly Bane, 27, showed how much dogs love to play with us while we’re trying to exercise in a clip where she has to fight a Bernese Mountain Dog off her yoga mat. Her efforts are unsuccessful, but the video is adorable. The video also gives her a great excuse next time she doesn’t feel like like working out: “My dog wouldn’t let me!”

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