All of us want to raise children who become self-disciplined — and happy — adults. The only question is how best to do that. Luckily, we know a lot of the answers. Research studies have been following children from babyhood to adulthood for decades, so we actually know much of what works to raise great kids. Here are the five most important things we know.
1. Children need a secure attachment with at least one loving adult.
Parents facilitate this secure attachment in the first year by listening to their unique baby and responding to her needs. They continue to nurture secure attachment by accepting the full range of who their child is — including all that messy neediness and anger — into the toddler years and beyond. Parents who are unable to tolerate the child’s neediness, controlling (rather than accepting the child as he is), intrusive (rather than taking the child’s cues), or otherwise reacting out of their own needs rather than responding to their child’s needs are less likely to raise a securely attached child.