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  • 5 Science-Based Rituals Of Awesome Parents That Help Raise Successful Kids

    Think of how to "SERVE" your kids.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
5 Science-Based Rituals Of Awesome Parents That Help Raise Successful Kids
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/paulaphoto
  • There are many things our kids do that make us fall in love with them more and more each day as much as there are many things they do that drive us, well, nuts.

    Remember that time when your little one woke you up at 4 in the morning on the same day that you were scheduled for a big presentation? How about those times they demand we carry them while both our hands were full of groceries? Then, there’s the regular stepping on a toy they missed to put away.

    How to be an awesome parent

    Unlike any other ‘job’ we’ll probably have in our lifetime, parenting is the only one where we’re not allowed to give up on. So how do we keep the balance between keeping our sanity and still be a great parent in any situation?

    Blogger and author Eric Barker explores the science behind rituals that make one an awesome parent. Barker is the author of the bestselling book that explores the science behind what determines success titled, Barking Up the Wrong Tree. For better recall of these rituals, he uses the acronym SERVE:

    • Self-care
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Rituals
    • Values
    • Empower

    1. Self-care

    “If you want happy kids, an often-neglected step is making sure you’re happy,” Barker advises. “(Children) need you in good mental shape to guide them.”

    He says that a parent’s stress is also the children’s stress, and this can affect their intelligence and immune system as studies have shown. “Parental stress weakens children’s brains, depletes their immune systems, and increases their risk of obesity, mental illness, diabetes, allergies, even tooth decay,” he quotes one study.


    Thinking positive is key, he says and supports this by quoting another study that found out that “when a person can think positively about the future, they are capable of reducing the stress felt by their family members by as much as 60 percent.”

    2. Emotional intelligence

    According to Barker meltdowns are useful because parents can take advantage of this time to teach kids how to handle their emotions better so they may also be able to handle the emotions of others. For kids to handle their feelings, parents have to follow four steps:

    Empathize and listen.

    This means validating the child’s feelings first “before anything good in going to happen.” Once you’ve established that, then it’s time to lend them an empathetic ear but use your “eyes to watch for physical evidence of their children’s emotions” to see the situation from the child’s perspective.

    Label emotions.

    Help kids label their emotions to get a handle on them, says Barker. “This dampens extreme feelings at the neuroscience level.” By simply saying things like ‘you feel sad, don’t you?’ parents not only make the child understood but provide a word to describe a very intense feeling — whether it be sadness, anger or frustration.

    “Studies indicate that the act of labeling emotions can have a soothing effect on the nervous system, helping children to recover more quickly from upsetting incidents,” Barker quotes a study.

    Problem solve.

    “Once you’ve empathized, listened and labeled, you can actually fix things,” says Barker. You can also help teach a child that certain behaviors are not tolerated and guide him on how to handle his emotions. Lines like, “You’re mad that Danny took that game away from you, I would be, too. But it’s not okay for you to hit him. What can you do instead?”

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    Teach empathy.

    Taking off from an advice given by University of Pennsylvania Professor Adam Grant, Barker says that parents who do a good job at teaching kids moral values are those who explain how their child’s behavior hurts others and make them think how the other child must have felt.

    3. Rituals

    Barker emphasizes the need to do things as a family such as eating meals together. “Consistent family rituals encourage the social development of children and increase feelings of family cohesiveness by more than 17 percent,” he quotes a research.

    Such rituals should also extend to other members outside of the immediate family, like grandma, and also to the community, adds Barker. “Kids don’t just need parents, they need a community of people who love them to truly thrive.”

    4. Values

    Taking the advice of Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, Barker writes that one of the most important things parents can do is sit their children down and explain to them the values they intend to uphold as a family. Whether they want to be the kind of family that goes on a yearly camping together or eat every meal together, the important thing is to communicate it to them. 

    Barker suggests that one of the best ways to help them start developing the values you want them to uphold is tell them stories about the family’s history. “Research shows whether a kid knows his family history was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being,” writes Barker.


    Talk about the good times and the tough times of the family and how they overcame them. This gives children “role models that show your family’s values in practice.”

    5. Empower

    Teach children how to become more autonomous as they grow older by involving them in the decision-making process early, writes Barker.

    “According scientists at the University of California and elsewhere, kids who plan their own time, set weekly goals, and evaluate their own work build up their prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain that help them exert greater cognitive control over their lives,” he quotes a study.

    He also adds, that even allowing kids to have a say in a punishment for an infraction they did motivates them not to get into trouble.

    It’s not easy being an awesome parent simply because as children grow we also grow into our parenting roles. We stumble and learn as we go along and the easiest way to remind us how to be awesome parents is to SERVE.  

    Click here for five more traits that parents who raise successful kids have.

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