How to raise successful children according to science: Stop training them to ‘spit back facts’ like computers and focus on the six Cs instead


The amount of conflicting advice there is on how to bring up happy and successful children can make your head spin.

Parents often find themselves questioning how strict they should be with youngsters and how much independence they should allow them.

Now a new book by psychologists says our approach is wrong – because we’re training them to be computers, reports NPR.

Instead of focusing on ‘success’ at school, we should be teaching them how to be better at being social, navigate relationships and be good citizens in a community.

That’s according to two professors who have written Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.

We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts,’ Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, told the website.

‘And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that.’

This way of thinking challenges our definition of what success in school, and out of school, means, they say.

Instead, we should focus on the ‘six Cs’ of parenting, says Professor Hirsh-Pasek and her co-author Roberta Golinkoff from the University of Delaware.

This is collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence – listed in order of importance.


Collaboration teaches children to get on with other people is key inside and outside of school.

Communication includes speaking, reading, writing and listening.

Content is built on communication. You can’t learn anything if you haven’t learned how to understand language, or to read.

Critical thinking relies on content – it’s about what you then do with it.

Creative innovation is the next step because you need to know something well enough to make something new.

Confidence is critical in order to teach children to take safe risks.

The first, collaboration, is basic but at the core of parenting.

‘Collaboration is everything from getting along with others to controlling your impulses so you can not kick someone else off the swing,’ Professor Hirsh-Pasek explained.

Everything your child does, in the classroom or at home, has to be built on that foundation.

The authors give a practical example of encouraging critical thinking – you should make sure you do not shut them down when they ask a question.

And you should encourage them to ask more. You want them to understand how other people think.

The book explains that there are four levels to each of the six C’s, which allow parents to assess how strong they are in each skill.

They stress that social interaction between parents and child – rather than gadgets or classes – is what help set up the child for the development of these skills.

‘What we do with little kids today will matter in 20 years,’ says Hirsh-Pasek.


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