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Teaching Your Kids Kindness May Help Them Succeed Later In Life

[July 21, 2020: WBUR]

Let's face it: When it comes to raising children, certain success factors, such as academic grades or athletic performance, are relatively easy to measure. But science suggests focusing on them may be shortsighted.

That's part of the reason why Adam Grant, organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, is urging parents to emphasize caring and kindness to their children.

"The evidence is clear that in the long run, the kids who achieve the greatest success are not the ones who faced a ton of pressure to get straight As," Adam said. "They're the ones who were taught to be concerned about others and show compassion."

According to one Harvard study, 80 percent of youth say their parents value achievement and happiness over caring for others. That perception can seriously affect young people's ethical standards, making anti-social actions like cheating, bullying, or lying more likely.

Adam Grant joined us to talk about some of the surprising benefits that come with raising caring kids. He started by telling us about some of the ways he and his wife, Allison Sweet Grant, are teaching kindness to their own three children at home.

Interview Highlights

Adam Grant (AG): "I noticed when we sit down at the dinner table, we'd ask our kids, 'How was the test?' and, 'How was the game?' And immediately, their attention gets focused on grades and goals. So we started asking our kids once a week at dinner, 'Who did you help this week?'

At first, we got a lot of 'I forgot' or ‘no one.’ But as we kept asking, they started coming up with more thoughtful answers. Part of it was that they noticed things they were doing that helped others [and] part of it was they knew we were going to ask. They looked for opportunities to help day-to-day."

On Parents Over-Emphasizing High Achievement

AG: "I think they should..... MORE



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