Science Says Your Stubborn Child Will Be a Successful Adult

Sophie Miura

When it comes to kids, getting them to do even the smallest task can sometimes be a battle. From getting them to do homework to completing chores without challenge, having a stubborn child can be exhausting. If that sounds familiar we've got good news: New research suggests your child's tricky traits might actually be an asset later in life. 

Researchers followed 700 kids throughout childhood to age 40 to see what characteristics were predictors of success. They took special note of each child's personality, in particular their sense of entitlement, studiousness, defiance against their parents, and willingness to break the rules.

The results were fascinating. Children who acted out against their parents and had a tendency to break rules were more successful later in life. What's really interesting is that researchers believe those personality traits at age 12 are far more accurate at predicting career success than a child's IQ or their parent's ability to invest in education. 

On a surface level, it makes sense. Kids who push their parents for a bigger allowance are more likely to negotiate a higher salary, and children who are strong-willed at home are less likely to be pushovers in the workplace.  

So, what if your child isn't defiant? Follow these tried-and-true tips for raising  a successful, balanced, independent child: 

  1. Raise your expectations. The expectations you have for your child can act like a self-fulfilling prophesy. A study by the University of California found that parents who hoped their kids would go to college "seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income," says researcher professor Neil Hafron. 
  2. Encourage a growth mindset. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck believes kids are taught to think about success in one of two ways: in a fixed mind-set, which means they believe they're born with set capabilities, or a growth mind-set, where they think can work hard to develop skills. She says something as simple as praise could hold the key to raising a successful child. Rather than commending your kid for being smart, tell them you're proud because they worked hard. 
  3. Teach them to problem-solve. Psychologist Sherrie Campbell says problem-solving skills are among the most valuable skills you can teach your kids. "Ask them how they want or think they should handle the situation that is upsetting them," she told The Huffington Post. "This helps them to hear themselves out, and to learn to make good decisions from within."

Find out more about why challenging children become successful adults at Fatherly. 

Looking for parenting advice? Shop our edit of books about how to raise successful, balanced children below. 

What skills do you think are important to teach children to help them later in life? Tell us in the comments below.

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