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Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids, and Start Raising Kind Ones

Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids, and Start Raising Kind Ones

by Tom Cangiano, Head of School

A friend recently pushed an article to me that was recently published in The Atlantic magazine - Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant, “Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids, and start raising kind ones." The point of the article is that today’s parents may be too focused on raising “successful kids” and perhaps not focused enough on raising “kind kids.”

Parents whose emphasis is on raising successful kids tend to emphasize performance results and individual accomplishments (grades on tests or papers, goals scored in a game, winning, etc.). They also want to make sure their children are learning how to stick up for themselves and to not be taken advantage of by others. They want their kids to be “tough.” These traits are no doubt important as kids learn to successfully navigate their lives.

The authors find, however, that there are also huge benefits to children who are encouraged by parents, teachers, and peers to be kind and who are able to make kindness an essential component of how they live their lives. As the authors put it, “concern for other people promotes supportive relationships and helps prevent depression. Students who care about others also tend to see their education as preparation for contributing to society—an outlook that inspires them to persist even when studying is dull.”  In short, kind children feel more connected to others, and thus they often feel better about themselves.

Experts in other fields have noted the benefits of being kind and generous in enhancing one’s sense of personal happiness and fulfillment.  “Psychologists call this the helper’s high.  Economists refer to it as the warm glow of giving. Neuroscientists find that generosity activates reward centers in our brains. And evolutionary biologists observe that we’re wired to help others.” 

The most significant point of the article, however, is one that some may find surprising: “In adulthood, generous people earn higher incomes, better performance reviews, and more promotions than their less generous peers. This may be because the meanings they find in helping others leads to broader learning and deeper relationships, and ultimately to greater creativity and productivity.”

The bottom line is that raising successful kids and raising kind kids are not mutually exclusive.  At GEMS, we understand and appreciate the importance of teaching our kids to be kind. This meshes quite well with our emphasis on being good citizens and everything that this entails.  We know that kind kids are often happier kids, and happier kids are often more successful in school and in life.


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