Teach Your Children Success Skills

Success Builds Skills

Being a great student doesn't necessarily translate to being a successful adult. So, you're not off the hook just because your child is doing well in school.

School is not teaching the essential things in life.

As a parent, you can make up for this oversight and still prepare your child for a successful and fulfilling life.

Teach the following skills to help your child to be successful in life.


Even a child can set goals. A child's intentions might be to get an A on a test, earn a spot on the basketball team, or finish a long book. Learning to set an objective and develop a plan to achieve it are valuable skills for anyone of any age.


Having a goal and a plan is the natural part. Executing that plan is considerably more challenging. Help your child to put in the time each day to achieve something worthwhile. It might be studying for a big test, exercising each day, or learning how to draw animals.

Around the world, everyone from governments and business leaders and economists to parents, teachers, and pediatricians are asking the same question.

What skills will our children need to succeed? Now you may think you know the answer!

Video Transcript

around the world everyone from governments and business leaders and economists to parents teachers and pediatricians are all asking the same question what skills will our children need to succeed now you may think you know the answer to the question but consider this it has been estimated that two-thirds of children today will work in jobs that don't currently exist now what skills do you want them to have in 2016 the World Economic Forum released a list that every parent and quite honestly anyone who cares about our children's future needs it's a list of the 21st century skills most valued in today's complex globalized and rapidly changing world a third of these skills are the traditional hard skills the reading writing and arithmetic that I call IQ skills more notable however are the other skills social and creative skills like creativity curiosity communication collaboration and critical thinking along with grit leadership and adaptability it is these so-called soft non cognitive and other skills that are gaining prominence in playrooms classrooms and boardrooms around the world now I feel the need to point out that calling these skills soft doesn't do them justice and referring to them as non cognitive is just wrong given that they involve complex functioning of the brain that leaves us with other and as somebody who has spent decades translating facts and figures into practical information I can assure you that if you ever want to convince somebody that something's really important don't call it other so I'd like to propose that we call these other skills key skills spelled Qi now the fact that it sounds like the word key as in ke Y fits because these skills are certainly key to future success it also reflects the fact that they are the complement to the IQ skills IQ and Qi and finally the word key sometimes also pronounced has been used across cultures and centuries to represent a positive life force that you can be born with but they can also be developed and that brings us to perhaps the most important insight based on the science of early brain and child development we now know that these key skills can be developed far earlier than most people realize with 85% of brain growth thought to occur by age 3 and up to a million new neural connections forming per second it is during the first 5 years that we have a unique opportunity to more intentionally build babies brains and to assemble this toolkit of skills we know they'll need to succeed that help you better understand why these early years are so critical I find it helpful to use the analogy of comparing the electrical wiring of the brain to that of a house it is entirely possible to rewire an old house it just always takes longer costs more and never turns out quite as good as when the wiring goes in before the walls go up with the respect to the wiring of baby's brains caring responsive adults are that play the role as chief architects neurons don't just connect and babies don't just learn what they need to know all on their own unlocking children's early learning potential is deeply dependent on social interactions which explains why cultivating the key skills involves a whole lot of talking cooing singing playing and reading books to babies with that in mind allow me to introduce you to the seven key skills the first of the key skills our me skills defined by self-awareness self-control or impulse control along with focus and attention in other words me skills are what allow us to be in control of our own thoughts feelings and actions now to put me skills into a bigger picture perspective just think about how often these days we hear about everything from mindfulness apps and mindful breathing to the introduction of chief mindfulness officers into corporate culture even renowned business visionary Peter Drucker for addicted that while the 20th century was the era of business management the 21st century is going to be the era of self management right and a good self management day in the life of a toddler is when no one bites their friends that's because the ability to resist one's impulses or their urges is really dependent on impulse control which happens to be one of the three defining features of what neuroscientists call executive function skills what research now tells us about these all-important executive function skills is that they develop most rapidly between the ages of 3 & 5 after me skills come we skills we skills are people skills the relationship skills like communication collaboration teamwork active listening empathy and perspective taking all needed to play well with others we skills are especially valuable in a world where it's become as important to be able to read other people as it is to read now given that I don't ever have to actually convince anybody that these skills are worth developing allow me instead to translate put your listening ears on use your words learn to play nice with others and in the same sandbox the fact of the matter is that these highly coveted social-emotional skills are preschool skills and they can be developed of very early toddlers can be taught to understand other people's perspectives 9 month olds begin to show signs of empathy and even very young infants are sensitive emotion detectors able to sense others emotions even before they can walk or talk now before moving on I should point out that it is the combination of me skills and we skills that fit the formal definition of emotional intelligence described not only as two of the hottest words in corporate America but recognized around the world as absolutely critical to thrive in all aspects of 21st century life next to the Y skills which obviously include asking the question why but more broadly include exploration curiosity inquisitiveness and asking all sorts of crush jhin's to better understand how the world works fueled by technology the Information Age has now put so many answers right at our collective fingertips that it is no wonder that the ability to ask good questions has become so much more valued than simply knowing the right answer as Albert Einstein put it the important thing is to never stop questioning now think about some of the corporate training programs like the five why's that train business leaders to better get to the root of a problem by repeatedly asking why implemented by some of the top companies in the world these formal questioning and training techniques ironically leave one fundamental question unanswered why should we have to go to such great lengths to train adults to do something that comes so naturally to two and three-year-olds the answer m'f raid is that we train this skill out of children while it is natural for young children to question the world around them making sure that they continue to see the world as a question mark very much depends on our commitment to encouraging rather than squelching their natural sense of wonder when I think of will skills I'm reminded of when my own three children first began school and they became members of a club called the can-do Club which recognized young students not just for their grades but for their drive and determination both key aspects of will skills will is also about grit and perseverance and it's evident in people with get the job done and stick with it attitudes at the heart of will is motivation now there are actually two types of motivation the first extrinsic motivation involves rewards and punishments while this approach may work in the short run and for relatively simple tasks the complex challenges of the 21st century are going to demand a lot more from our children simply relying on rewards has been shown to all but kill creativity and in the long run actually decrease motivation intrinsic or self motivation is what we're really after the kind of motivation that comes from within to foster this kind of self-motivation we perhaps need to rethink how we parent in the earliest years when even the most routine tasks brushing teeth and peeing in the potty are all too often rewarded with sweets and treats rather than with praise and pride now you may not be accustomed to thinking of wiggling as a skill but the best way to understand wiggle skills is to recognize that physical and intellectual restlessness go hand in hand just think about how we commonly describe successful adults as movers and shakers and go-getters who set stretch goals spring into action and reach for the stars they're all about action if you read the innovation literature you'll find that innovators are almost always described as physically restless and at work you're more likely to see walking meetings and treadmill desks and manipulatives on tables all meant more actively enhance our ability to think create and innovate now think about the words that we use to describe active young children fidgety antsy Restless I can honestly say that in all my years working with children I've never heard any of those words used in a positive sense whether out of fear for their safety or for our own convenience we tend to favor the calm quiet child who doesn't reach touch grab or poker get into things instead of giving young children the wiggle room they need we strap them in we insist they sit still and we tell them to look but don't touch all of us but most especially young children learn about the world by physically interacting with it instead of working their Wiggles out what our children really need is for us to help them learn how to put their wiggles to work after wiggle comes wobble a set of skills defined by agility and adaptability and the ability to face overcome and learn from failure the word wobble comes from a phrase weebles wobble but they don't fall down a reference to a very popular classic toy called weebles their eggs shaped with weight at the bottom so they could wobble back and forth but ultimately remain standing as skills needed to adapt to a very rapidly changing world wobble skills have gained special prominence college applications and job interviewers routinely ask when have you failed and what did you do about it Silicon Valley's unofficial motto is said to be fail early fail often and fail forward a motto that we really should be applying to how we raise young children on that note I want you to think for a moment what might be earliest developmental milestones for wobble look like but don't think too hard because there are none the fact of the matter is that milestones only represent successes not failures if we want to raise resilient children we need to get in the habit of celebrating not just their milestone moments but their ability to fall down brush themselves off and get right back up again the combination of the key skills are what if skills or what I think of as possibilities skills defined by innovation imagination creativity and out-of-the-box thinking it's the what if skills that give us the ability to imagine the world not just as it is but as how it could be in a global survey of over 1,500 CEOs creativity was identified as the single most important factor for future success our world clearly rewards those who can imagine the world they want to live in and then create it young children excel at imagining new worlds from make-believe and superheroes to imaginary friends and fanciful stories young children really are as futurist Peter Diamandis puts it some of the most imaginative humans around but it has also been said that the creative adult is the child that survived in our efforts to teach our children how we see the world we run the very real risk of convincing them that there's only one right way to do or see things we must therefore ask ourselves the question raised by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget are we forming children capable of only learning that which is already known or should we try to develop creative and innovative minds capable of discovery throughout life I'm here to tell you the answer is the latter giving children the best is about maximizing their potential not their possessions it's about cultivating their sense of purpose and passion not subjecting them to unnecessary pressure and it's about caring responsive adults and starting early we now know that what happens in early childhood does not stay in early childhood by applying what we now know about all of the key skills and applying it early me.we Y will wiggle wobble and what if I believe that we can achieve success in our shared goal of giving all children access to a world of possibilities thank you.



No one teaches us how to focus. Most of us spend our lives distracting ourselves, which is the opposite of focus. Meditation is one tool for teaching focus, but there are many other options, such as:

Set a timer and encourage your child to focus on their homework for 10 minutes straight.

Avoid allowing your child to read a book or play on their tablet while watching TV. Teach them to only engage in one activity at a time.


Mastering the opinions of others is a tough one to learn at any age, but it's especially challenging for children. It's hard to be successful if you're worried about the opinions of others. Set a good example and show your child what it means to be brave.


Taking actions in pursuit of your goals and accepting the possibility of failing is correlated with success. Successful people fail much more frequently than the average person.

The more often you're willing to fail, the more success you'll find. Teach this lesson to your children. Again, set a good example.


Once the failure has occurred, it's essential to make the most of it. Teach your child that failure is a learning opportunity that makes them more reliable and more capable.

A profound predictor of health and wealth that can be determined by three years of age. And that predictor is language. Language is the essence of what it means to be human. Now, animals may have noises or gestures that they can communicate with, I can assure you my cat can get me up out of bed at five o'clock in the morning because he is hungry, but human beings are much more adept and much more facile at language.

Video Transcript

Translator: Sylvia He Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Thank you very much. There is a profound predictor of health and wealth that can be determined by three years of age. And that predictor is language. Language is the essence of what it means to be human. Now, animals may have noises or gestures that they can communicate with, I can assure you my cat can get me up out of the bed at five o'clock in the morning because he is hungry, but human beings are much more adept and much more facile at language. I can tell you that language in the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary, there are 600,000 different words that American, that English people can know. Lots of people spoke, speak more than one language. So the ability of humans is enormous, you never really and truly see a chimpanzee or a rhinoceros reading a book, but humans commonly read books, and we understand language. Babies come into this world acutely programmed to learn all these different words, to learn the essence of language, because language is what makes us human, and quite frankly, language is what makes us survive. There is a huge growth spurt, a huge increase in capacity in the brain by at least a third that occurs in the last part of pregnancy, right before babies come into this world. And I can tell you that babies are hard-wired to learn different languages. I can tell you that because the important thing about babies is not only that there is the capacity, but how we learn language is from our caretakers. That means mothers and babies have this unique experience. I can tell you from the maternal point of view that I experienced that in my own life. Now, I'm an obstetrician-gynecologist; I delivered lots and lots and lots of babies, but the experience of delivering somebody else's baby was completely different than my own pregnancy. Now, I gotta tell you, I came to pregnancy, and I was already a doctor. I've known I wanted to be a doctor from age eight. I loved it. I was a really good surgeon. I wasn't really even sure I wanted children. And then, this pregnancy occurred - by choice - and all of a sudden, I was acutely aware of my unborn daughter. All of a sudden, this woman that had been interested in the outside world was only concentrated on my pregnant belly. I wasn't really interested in anything more than ten feet away from me. The evidence of hard-wire is even more profound in babies. What you are looking at is the development of language, because language is the interaction between caretaker and baby. This experiment from the Harvard Child Development Center is about the importance of the hard-wire that is existing. This is called the "Still Face Experiment." What happened is the mothers are instructed to turn away and then turn back to the child and have a still face. Watch what happens to the baby. What you'll see happening is, first, she tries to engage. "Ah-ah," smiles, coos, points - that's to elicit a response. Points, then she coos, "Ah, ah, ah," "ma, ma, ma," and then she reaches out. This is important, this is hard-wired. And all of a sudden, she starts to get frustrated, nothing is catching attention, there is this screech, "Ahhhhh." She tries to comfort herself. And then she looks away, tries to disengage, makes one final, one more attempt to get her mother's attention. And then she dissolves into hopeless crying. It's hard-wired. The Still Face Experiments are clear indicators that this is hard-wired. So what's the importance? What's the long-term consequence of this kind of biologic stuff? Why is it important that a mother concentrates on her baby, or that a baby concentrates and demands the attention of its mother? The long-term effect of all this primitive stuff was done in some, I think, some kind of brilliant work by Hart and Risley. And they were experimenters who had been involved in the war on poverty. They'd been involved in the war on poverty, and they said, "You know, there's a problem here, because we are not really seeing, with these early educational interventions, although they are good, although there are some results, we are really not seeing what we wanted to see." So, they said, "Can we look earlier? Is there something that is happening before these babies get to kindergarten, before these babies get to first grade? Is there something happening that is important?" Their work was an extreme, involved, deep observation of family life. They went into the homes of 42 families, and they had an intense observation of those families. They looked at those families an hour a month, every single month, from the time their children were seven months of age until the end of the third year. And what they found, as by the title of my talk, was really not what they expected. First of all, the children were all well-cared-for. So it wasn't the changes in the children, the difference in the children had nothing to do with not having the physical needs met. Secondly, it was not about race, it was not about gender. And here's the key: it was not about money. It wasn't determined by the number of toys that could be purchased by the parent. It wasn't determined by the neighborhood they lived in. It wasn't determined by the size of the house they lived in. It was determined by the interaction of the parents with the child. And the interaction that they saw after three years of observation was that there were 30 million more words that those families that were identified as professional families, 30 million more words that those families, those mamas and daddies, said to their children than the children in poverty. The reality is, for those families in poverty, those parents were only saying about 600 words an hour. For the professional families, it was over 2000 words an hour. Because the professional families were having constant talking with their baby. "Oh, your diaper needs to be changed. Oh, bless your heart, I'll take care of that." "Oh, look at those toes. Aren't those toes wonderful! Oh, and look at that belly button. That is the cutest thing I've ever seen. You are my beloved child." Thirty million more words. That's important because neurological development of the brain, actual physical development of the brain, depends on words. Each time a word is said, it shoots up the neuron, it stimulates the neuron. And when that word is repeated, that same path is stimulated again, and it'd get stronger and stronger and stronger, and it branches out so there's capability of learning. And if those words are not repeated, the opposite occurs. Those neurons shrink and die and go away. The scientific word is pruning. But what it means is, it decreases the ability to learn. Now I've got to tell you one more thing, it's not just hearing the words. Because babies put in front of televisions, it's like the Still Face Experiment, they don't learn. They don't learn, because it is the interaction. And children who are deaf can learn language. "Thank you," in sign language is language, it is symbols that mean something. It's language. So it's not the hearing, but it's the interaction that is most important. And it is enormously important. This is a graph of the effect of those 30 million different words on these children. At the end of the three years, those babies that were born to welfare parents knew 500 words, while those babies in the "professional" families knew over a thousand words. It makes a difference. This whole process is language nutrition. And what it means is that language is absolutely important for the development of the brain. Language is absolutely the basis from which all human learning occurs. If you think about it, what language nutrition really is, is the development of neurons, the development of the brain, is absolutely, biologically dependent on language, which leads directly to the ability to read, which leads directly to graduation from high school, which leads directly to college education, or high school education. The importance of learning to read, the importance of this language nutrition, is that there were profound effects that they observed that were long-term. It wasn't just short-term, it was long-term. They looked at these same children five years later, and they found that they could tell that the gap had increased between those children. It'd gone from 500 to 1000 words to the ability to pass standardized tests at third grade. And why is that benchmark so important? Third grade is important in the whole part of human learning because up to third grade you learn to read. After third grade, you read to learn. If you cannot read on level by third grade, you can't read the text, so you can't keep up. You may never catch up. For those children who are not reading on level by third grade, they are four times more likely not to be able to graduate from high school. And remember this language nutrition model? If they can't read, they don't graduate from high school, and that leads directly to a problem with success in the society. If you are really behind in reading, there's a six times greater chance that you won't graduate from high school. Now, the problem in Georgia is that 70 percent of Georgia's children do not read on third grade level. 70 percent. That has profound implications for the state and profound implications for the individuals that are involved. There is this ranking called "American's National Health Rankings." And in those health rankings, there are two clusters that keep me up at night. Two clusters that, as a state health officer, I worry about. One cluster is about infant mortality, and prematurity, and all that. And we have made some progress there; that's a talk for another day. The other cluster where they were at the very bottom of the pack, where we are at the lowest tenth of the country, has to do with this whole business about literacy at third grace. We have high numbers of children in poverty, high numbers of failure to graduate from high school, high numbers of income disparity, lack of health insurance, underemployment, unemployment. All of this caused by our lack of ability to read on level at third grade. Also, as a state health officer, I can tell you, that is unacceptable. It is unexpectable, especially since I know it's not the neighborhood, it's not the income, it's not the genetics, it's the exposure to language, the early exposure to language. So we are involved in a public-private partnership called "Talk with me baby." And this is to solve this problem that we have here in Georgia. This is a public-private partnership. It involves United Way, it involves The Anne E. Casey Foundation, it involves Public Health, it involves the Department of Early Child Care and Learning. But all of it is the same; all of it is to change the paradigm. For example, The Marcus Foundation, which is one of our partners, they are involved in developing the tools to teach healthcare providers, to teach nurses, hospitals, and doctors how to tell their patients about this, the importance of early learning, and also how to tell their patients how to do it. In public health, we are going directly to the mamas, because in public health, we have an interesting little program called WIC. WIC is the Women, Infant and Child Nutrition Program. Now, WIC is different from a regular food stamp program. In WIC, you don't just get a little plastic card and go to the grocery store and do whatever you want. In WIC, you have to come to see us, every three months to see a nutritionist. And you can only purchase certain foods with your WIC card. We see this as a unique opportunity to take food nutrition, which is so important for our citizens of this state, and talk to them about language nutrition. And there are a lot of people in WIC, 50 to 60 percent of Georgia's babies qualify and are in WIC. 50 to 60 percent. And all those low-risk mothers. And WIC is everywhere, there are 159 counties in Georgia, and we have 159 or more WIC offices in Georgia. We have a WIC office capable of reaching these people, every single place in Georgia. There is not a single place in Georgia that you can't get to a WIC office. We hired the Marcus Foundation to come up with some videos, and these videos will be played in the WIC clinics. And they'll tell these young mothers, these young needy mothers, these poverty mothers that we're going back to the original studies, about the importance of food nutrition. They'll tell these mothers how to do it, because it is not just straight forward, "Oh, talk to your baby and you'll be fine." There are subtleties that you need to know, and these videos are designed to do that. It'll tell them such things as a baby is born recognizing its mother's voice, therefore when you start talking to your baby, it's when your baby is still in the womb. So this program is designed to get to all these mothers. So far, what we have done is, we want to know what works. I believe it'll work, but what we want to know is, does it really work? So we have evaluated the average number of words that the children in our WIC clinic know. And we are going to start the videos, and we are going to couple it with the reinforcement - remember those every-three-month visits for pregnant women and children? We are going to reinforce that with the nutrition saying to them, "Food nutrition is important, but language nutrition may be even more important for your baby." And when that mama goes home from the WIC clinic, she's going to be taking a book. I really think that ... this will change the dynamics here in Georgia. I know for a fact that it is all about language. The most important concept is the development of language. I know that the Office of the Budget for the House of Representatives recently did a study, and they looked at the evaluation of the war on poverty that was started back in the '60s, and according to our budget office, we've spent five trillion dollars on it. And here's what's happened to the poverty rate. In 1965, when it started, the poverty rate was 17.3. In 2012, after five trillion dollars, it is 15. That's not much progress. I present to you, I think the problem is we didn't look for the answer to the problem early enough, and we didn't - we weren't including language. We have to include language. Language is the very basis of solving the problem of poverty. Life expectancy at the time of Christ was 20 to 30 years. Life expectancy for human beings a thousand years later was 20 to 30 years. Today, you people sitting out there, your life expectancy is 80 years or more. You survive birth, you survive learning to drive as a teenager, and you have a great chance of living to 80 or more. That expected change in life expectancy is not because of bypass surgery or CAT scans. Bypass surgery and CAT scans are great; they may add a year or two. But those transformational changes are from more basic, primary, primitive public health initiatives. Those changes in life expectancy are from clean water, and an effective sewer, and vaccinations, and the developement of antibiotics. I can tell you that in 1900, the things that were killing us, the three killers of human beings in 1900, was pneumonia, TB, and diarrhea. And I can also tell you that the things I mentioned - clean water, sewers, vaccinations, antibiotics - those are responsible for the expected change in life expectancy. I can also say to you that I believe that we are on the precipice of the next transformational change in public health. That transformational change, I truly believe, is the deep understanding of the importance of language development, and the determination that we have absolutely universal, effective, early language development. My message to you as a state health officer of Georgia today is really simple, but I think it is important. And my message to you is: talk with your baby. Thank you. (Applause)


Fear is the most significant blocker to success. The inability to deal with negative feelings, in general, leads to bad habits, such as drinking, using drugs, overeating, and wasting time on stimulating activities with little value. Help your child to deal with uncomfortable feelings positively.

The ability to manage negative feelings effectively makes relationships more challenging, too.


It's not easy to be happy and prosperous on your own. Relationships are an essential part of life. Many children struggle to make friends and fit in, leading to possible challenges in childhood and later in life.


Use your time wisely, and you can accomplish anything. Teach your child how to plan part of his day and how to use that time wisely. Procrastination is a success killer.


You can't be successful if you don't take care of yourself adequately. Your child needs to know that he has a right and a responsibility to make his own needs a priority if he's going to be successful.

However, if you look at successful people, most of them don't operate by placing others ahead of themselves.

Your child shouldn't have to figure out everything on their own. They have you to teach them the ropes.

Success is a skill that anyone can learn.

Teach your child to be successful. You'll learn more about success in the process and enjoy a higher level of success yourself.

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