5 ways you can set your children up for success

While no one can control their child's future, there are a few things that have proven to get children ahead in life.

1. Show physical affection

Various studies have found that children who are shown physical affection during childhood are less likely to be depressed and anxious as adults. Children who receive affection are also more likely to perform well academically, have higher self-esteem and are also better at communicating with their parents.

Practical tips

  • Make hugging part of your daily routine.
  • Be mindful of sitting close while reading or watching TV together.
  • Always greet or say goodbye with some form of touch.

2. Encourage playing

Studies show that play is crucial for children's development and teaches them amongst other things, creativity, problem-solving and self-control. Imaginative play, when children act out various experiences they might have had, or those that are interesting to them, is a valuable way for children to make sense of and engage with the world. It also helps them learn decision-making skills and increases their social skills. Playing outside in nature has additional benefits that all contribute to an increased sense of wellbeing for the child.

Practical tips

  • Plan regular visits to your local park or a green space in your area.
  • Provide a dress up box and other fun things that will help children engage in imaginative play.
  • Allow screen time, but balance it with other forms of play such as outdoor games, play with friends, board games, reading and creative activities.

3. Do things together as a family

Research by the Thomas Cook group found that 74 percent of the 1,500 working parents surveyed felt that they did not have enough daily quality time with their children. Of the parents surveyed, on average, parents said they spent less than 40 minutes around the table as a family and less than 45 minutes playing together.

Practical tips

  • When you are spending time with your children, put your mobile phone down. As much as possible, have eye contact and listen well.
  • Rather than feeling pressure to schedule structured events to promote bonding, focus on the basics - family dinners, walking the dog together and other seemingly mundane activities are all valuable opportunities for connecting.
  • Family time is about creating a sense of belonging - so do whatever that means to you and your family. It may be a weekly movie night, making dinner together or anything else where time is spent in each other's company.

4. Read to your children

Reading helps children develop their sense of imagination, it improves their concentration and also increases their empathy. Reading to your children is a great way to spend time together. If you're self-conscious about reading aloud, try storytelling. If you have time, asking children questions about the story and taking the time to explain new words also helps develop understanding and vocabulary.

Practical tips

  • If your day involves a car trip, audio stories are also an option. Ask questions and encourage your children to engage with the story.
  • Allow your children to choose age-appropriate books that appeal to them.
  • Incorporate bedtime stories into your routine.

5. Cultivate a positive environment

Words matter. What we say to our children creates a lasting impact. When children feel safe and accepted, they are more likely to be confident and believe in themselves. While children need loving correction, beware of harsh criticism and be patient when speaking to them. Give affirmation and thanks where it is due. Express your belief in your child, and in their potential.

Practical tips

  • Help your children learn new things, and make it a positive experience.
  • Learning something new helps children increase their self-esteem.
  • Lead by example. When teaching your children new things, show them how, be patient and have a positive attitude. They will take their cue from your approach to life.
  • Help your child develop socially by encouraging playdates and interaction with other children.

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