5 Overlooked Things Parents Do That Lead To Great Kids

Parenting involves a lot of improvisation and on-the-fly decisions. While we all hope we are making the right choices, it’s sometimes hard to know if we are on the right path and it often feels like we are bumbling our way through parenthood. At JAM we have a community of some of the most creative kids in the world. We wondered if their parents might have suggestions that could help us all understand the ingredients behind raising wonderful humans. We conducted research across a subset of JAM parents this week and asked them for tips regarding their parenting style. We discovered insightful patterns in their responses that you are probably doing already but may not have noticed.

Let your kids fail

“Try to stay out of their way as much as possible, even if it means that they might fall or fail. Never say “be careful.” Openly celebrate their uniqueness and the ways that they bring joy and value to your life. Cheer often. Let them know that nothing that they do will ever make you stop loving them. Don’t treat all of your kids the same and make sure that they know that you don’t — people have different needs. Practice and show compassion so that they will show compassion. Make them do chores, serve others, and do hard stuff. Show them how to love people who are less capable than themselves.” — Nellie

Trust what your kids love

“We give our son lots of trust and freedom. We treat him like a person with real ideas and dreams and see how to enable him to turn those into realities, or to learn from the failures along the way.” — Whitney

Acknowledge both talents and weaknesses

“They learned to own their talents and weaknesses and not to judge either of them.” — Marielle

Challenge your kids

“We talk a lot, respect each other, respect different views and opinions. Kids always get a reason for the decision and we request a reason in response. We challenge kids, and they offer support for their ideas in their response. But first of all, we talk. Doing JAM is one of our discussion points.” — Nataliya

Encourage a growth mindset

“Learn and teach Dweck’s growth mindset until you know it in your sleep. It’s a real-life proven thing and it’s a hopeful inspiring approach to living life well.” — William

If you haven’t heard of Carol Dweck or growth mindset before, she is a researcher at Stanford whose research found that people who believe their talents can be developed through things like hard work and input from others tend to achieve more than those who believe their talents are innate. Someone with a growth mindset would look at a new challenge and say “I haven’t figured out how to do this yet” rather than saying “I can’t do this.” Parents can encourage their kids to develop a growth mindset. We love her work and use many of her principles here at JAM and at home with our own kids.

While everyone’s parenting style differs, we hope the ideas from parents within our community might help to affirm some of the good things you are already doing that you might not have realized. I’ve always felt that parenting is simultaneously both the most rewarding and the hardest gig on the planet. My own kids are now 20 and 17. My husband I recently looked at our now young-adult kids and had a high-five moment where we realized that, despite all of the times we worried whether we were doing the right thing, our kids turned out to be smart, kind people we enjoy. If you happen to be doubting your own instincts as a parent I can assure you that’s common. You don’t have to be perfect. Kids are resilient and if you can infuse their life with even a few of these principles you’ll experience a parenting win.