8 roles parents should play if they want their kids to be successful, according to Harvard research

Child and parent
The ‘early learning partner’ is the most important role of the eight.

  • Harvard professor Ronald Ferguson is author of “The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children.”
  • After becoming fascinated with what parents did to shape his most talented students, he conducted research and determined that there are eight parental roles that make up the formula for master parenting.
  • Being an “early learning partner” is the most crucial, he said, which helps kids become excited about gathering new information and succeeding.
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Spotting patterns, trends, and formulas make our work (and life) easier. But I never thought I’d see someone unlocking the formula for the hardest job of all: raising super-successful children.

Harvard professor Ronald Ferguson, author of “The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children,” recently told the Harvard Gazette he’s done exactly that.

Ferguson was fascinated with what parents did to shape his talented students. So he and co-author Tatsha Robertson comprehensively studied how different parenting styles shape children’s success. Test subjects included the youngest statewide elected official in the country and the mother of the CEOs of YouTube and the genetics company​ 23andMe.

What emerged?

Eight parental roles that Ferguson says make up the formula for master parenting. “It was like a hidden pattern that gradually revealed itself – a set of widely recognized, well-researched qualities that are the basic success foundations.”

Play these eight roles well and you’ll ace parenting.

1. The ‘early learning partner’

parent child gift
Get kids interested in learning before they start school.

This role has parents getting their child interested in learning at a young age, before they start school. Ferguson calls the early learning partner the most important role of the eight. The most successful kids can read basic words by kindergarten, and experience what Ferguson calls “the early lead effect,” where the child responds positively to a teacher’s excitement that they can already read.

2. The ‘flight engineer’

father son parent child
There’s a difference between this and a helicopter parent.

This is the parent monitoring the child’s growth environment, making sure they’re getting what they need and intervening when they’re not.

This isn’t the same as being a helicopter parent, who Ferguson says “are so involved in their children’s lives they don’t create space for them to develop independent relationships, learn how to negotiate for themselves, or identify their own interests.” My wife and I started playing this role when we encountered a teacher that wasn’t giving our daughter a fair shake.

3. The ‘fixer’

parent child high five
They don’t let a lack of resource get in their way.

In this role, the parent ensures no key opportunity for their child’s betterment is lost — and they don’t let a lack of resources slow them down.

As Ferguson says, “The parents might be living in poverty, but if they see an opportunity they judge to be essential for their child’s success in school or life, they’ll walk through walls to get it.”

4. The ‘revealer’

mother child sweden parent
They help their child discover the world.

Revealer parents help their child discover the world by going to museums, libraries, exhibits, etc. — anything to expand their worldview. Again, this happens even with a lack of resources; revealer parents get creative in how to accommodate such outings. My wife and I have given this one extra focus, since we’re fans of experiences over things.

5. The ‘philosopher’

dad daughter parent kid child
This role helps kids find purpose.

Ferguson says this is the second most important role, because it helps children find purpose. Here, the parents ask and answer deep life questions, never underestimating a child’s capacity to understand life and grasp the idea of meaning. I’ve been astonished at how early my daughter grasped these big ideas.

6. The ‘model’

parent mother daughter child teen parenting communication
They embody the values that are important to them.

This is classic role-modeling. Parents who do this well are clear about which values are important to them and work hard to pass those values on to their children, who then aspire to emulate them. My wife and I try to live our core values each day — but that doesn’t mean it comes easy, or that we always succeed.

7. The ‘negotiator’

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This teaches kids to stand up for themselves – respectfully.

This role teaches the child to be respectful while standing up for themselves and what they believe in (especially in the face of those with power and authority).

8. The ‘GPS navigational voice’

adult child with parent
This is the parents’ voice staying in the child’s head, even when they’ve left home.

Ferguson described this as, “The parents’ voice in the child’s head after the child has left home, coaching the young adult through new situations in life.” I can only hope our daughter’s GPS never says “recalculating,” given the work we’ve done to try and keep it on course.

Reassuringly, the Harvard researcher said that the most important quality for parents to exhibit as they wear these different hats is simply the determination to be a great parent. He calls this motivation “the burn,” and says it often comes out of things in the parents’ histories:

It could be something that went wrong in their own childhoods that they didn’t want repeated for their own children. It could be a family legacy of excellence in some domain that they felt a responsibility to pass on to their offspring. Or some commitment that the family had, for example, to civil rights, that they wanted their children to honor. But each of these parents had a vision of the kind of person they wanted their children to become. That vision, along with the burn, guided and inspired their parenting.

So whatever your “burn” is, use it to play these eight roles well. None of the roles are always easy, but all of them are important for giving your child every chance to succeed.

This Inc. story was originally published on Business Insider April 30, 2019.

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4 ways to mentor and support the young entrepreneurs in your life

kids working business with parent whiteboard
Kids learn resilience when you let them fail and build self-confidence.

  • Young entrepreneurs need to be nurtured and supported to transform their creativity into viable careers or business ideas.
  • Parents should allow kids to try out new hobbies and activities, determine what excites them, and explore what they’re curious about. 
  • A kid entrepreneur will likely need help and resources once they find what they’re passionate about, so offer books, your professional network, and sage advice if they ask. 
  • Foster their resilience and self-confidence by letting them fail, learn from their mistakes, and improve. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Young people have always been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to social entrepreneurship. 

From lemonade that helps save bee populations to headbands that help fund ocean conservation, there’s no shortage of kid-run businesses that are protecting our planet. 

For many young would-be entrepreneurs – just like adults – the hardest part isn’t coming up with the idea. It’s getting that idea off the ground, and transforming it into a viable business. 

If you’ve got a kid entrepreneur in your life, here are a few tips to help them get started. 

Suggest that they try out new hobbies and activities to find something they’re passionate about

For kids who have a cause they want to support but no business idea yet, trying out new hobbies and activities can be a great way to discover something that sparks their interest. 

From volunteering at a local organization to trying out a new sport, you never know what could lead to a great social enterprise idea! 

Read more: Some wealthy parents are eager to give their children multicultural experiences, from elaborate trips to nannies that speak multiple languages. During COVID-19, they’ve had to get creative.

Support kids’ interests by encouraging their curiosity

One 11-year-old entrepreneur, named Sri Nihal Tammana, developed his nonprofit organization when he learned about a frequent cause of landfill fires: used batteries. 

With some help from his parents, he founded the nonprofit organization Recycle My Battery. Through Recycle My Battery, he’s recruited more than 45 other kids to help him recycle over 38,000 used batteries, thanks to a partnership with the country’s largest battery recycling company, Call2Recycle

But Tammana isn’t stopping there, despite the huge impact he and his fellow team members have already made. “There are three billion batteries that are thrown in the trash every year just in the U.S., and 15 billion batteries that are thrown in the trash worldwide,” Tammana said. “With the help of all my team, I would like to bring this number down to 0 to make the earth a better place to live.”

Be ready to lend your own adult support, and help them find support from other professionals if needed

No matter how talented or precocious a kid entrepreneur may be, he or she will always need help in some area of their business. After all, no child is born knowing about cash flow or how to manage a team. If they’re struggling in one area, you may want to help them find a book that can help teach them what they need to know, or offer to connect them to someone in your professional network who might be willing to help. 

In Tammana’s case, he was able to call on the support of parents and teachers to help him conduct a market study before he started Recycle My Battery. “I talked to our family friends and asked them what they are doing with regards to used batteries. Out of 20 people, only two said that they are recycling them properly by throwing them in battery bins placed at their work location,” he said. “All the other 18 said that they were throwing batteries in the trash. That was when I was 100 percent confident that I could go ahead with creating a nonprofit organization.”

Of course, as any parent knows, there’s a fine line between being supportive and being overbearing. While offering support (both practical and moral!) to kid entrepreneurs is crucial, it’s also important to grant them the independence they need to figure things out on their own and make their own decisions, as many of the most successful entrepreneurs say

Read more: Parents are spending thousands on the latest gadgets, coding bootcamps, and tech tutors for their toddlers to prepare them to compete in a digital world

Let them fail

It’s a hard thing to do, but letting your children fail teaches them an invaluable lesson: that failure doesn’t have to be catastrophic. It’s a critical element in building resilient kids – kids who have the self-confidence to get up and try again when something doesn’t work out. And that’s not just a good lesson for business, but a good lesson for life. 

Nurturing a child’s entrepreneurial skills can help them develop self-confidence, resilience, and creativity, among so many other valuable attributes. And these kids grow up into people who not only believe they can improve the world but actually do. Just take it from Tammana: “If I can make the earth a better place to live, you can. If you can make the earth a better place to live, we all can!”

Read the original article on Business Insider