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Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids

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Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids

And start raising kind ones.

The Atlantic,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The best skill you can teach your kids to prepare them for success is kindness.

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Most parents want their children to succeed, but too often they emphasize accomplishment over developing character traits such as kindness and generosity. This leads kids to value these virtues less. In this Atlantic article, psychologist Adam Grant and psychiatric nurse practitioner Allison Sweet Grant argue persuasively for a different approach. Instead of inquiring about their test scores at the dinner table, ask your children how they helped others. Soon they’ll be looking for the opportunity to do so, and you’ll be helping them learn to balance reaching goals with being a good person. Parents will appreciate learning how doing good becomes a path to doing well.


Most parents say they value kindness in their kids, but kids say their parents want them to achieve above all else.

One study of US college students found that both empathy and the ability to imagine another person’s perspective declined significantly between 1979 and 2009.

Psychologists have observed that while children born after 1995 might believe that those facing difficulty deserve help, they feel less obliged to be the one to help. They also donate to charity less frequently than past generations.

Parental expectations create the values children embrace.

Many parents emphasize achievement because they think it reflects well on them. Some parents see kindness and sharing as potential future vulnerabilities in a competitive...

About the Authors

Adam Grant, PhD, teaches organizational psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. His wife, Allison Sweet Grant, is a writer and psychiatric nurse practitioner.

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