Every parent wants to see their child grow up to be a strong, independent, well-rounded child but getting them there is the trick. There are no instruction manuals for babies that lay out the groundwork for how to accomplish this goal, but parents know it is important.

A well-rounded child is one who thinks for him- or herself, who is secure in his or her decisions and has a developing sense of who he or she is and where he or she fits in the world. Well-balanced kids should have a combination of classroom skills, good behavior, responsibility, and work habits.

Here are some of the best ways for parents to teach skills that will help their children become well-rounded.

Teach social skills

A 20-year study by researchers at Pennsylvania State and Duke University shows a positive correlation between children’s social skills in kindergarten and their success in early adulthood. Teaching your kids how to resolve issues with friends, share their belongings, listen without interrupting, and help others in the home is a great place to start.

Don’t overprotect

In today’s age of helicopter parenting, many parents have difficulty allowing their kids to solve problems when they rush in to fix challenges for them. Drawing on a Harvard University study, Julie Lythcott-Haims argues that allowing kids to make mistakes and develop resilience and resourcefulness is critical in setting them up for success.

Reduce screen time

Too much screen time has been linked to childhood obesity, irregular sleep patterns, and behavioral issues. In addition, a 2017 study by Greg L. West at the University of Montreal revealed that playing “shooter” games can damage the brain, causing it to lose cells. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, entertainment screen time should be limited to two hours a day.

Do assign chores

There is a significant body of evidence that shows that chores are beneficial for childhood development. Yet, in a Braun Research poll, just 28 percent of parents said they regularly assign chores to their kids. A University of Minnesota analysis of data found that the best predictor of success in young adulthood was whether children had performed chores as young as three or four.

Don’t tune out

According to a survey by Common Sense Media, 28 percent of teens said their parents were addicted to their mobile devices. Another recent study discovered that 32 percent of children surveyed felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by their phones. Children need to be given plenty of good attention to promote a healthy self-esteem.

Establish a solid support system

Children need to feel like they have a solid support system at home that makes them feel both confident and loved.

Don’t be too hard (or too soft)

Diana Baumrind, in her groundbreaking 1966 study, distinguished between authoritarian (very strict), permissive (very lenient), and authoritative (equally disciplined and loving) parents. In short, authoritarian parents are too hard, permissive parents are too soft, and authoritative are just right.

When a child models their authoritative parents, they learn emotion regulation skills and social understanding that are critical for success.

Encourage them to be outgoing

While it’s important for children to be surrounded by loving family members and friends, it’s also crucial that they are introduced to other people and to a variety of situations. Give them opportunities to step out of their comfort zones because this is what will help them to grow. Children from military families are a perfect example. Because they move every few years and are made to meet new people and make new friends, often in other countries, they are naturally more outgoing out of necessity.

Implementing these strategies will help you ensure your children will grow and mature into well-rounded adults.

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Mary Migliaro is an educator, parenting mentor and consultant who lives in Cherokee County.

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