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Five characteristics to instil in your child

What are the essential characteristics of happy and successful children? We explore five qualities to nurture in your child.

According to experts, successful, happy people – those who excel in their chosen careers and form satisfying relationships throughout their lives – share certain characteristics. Even when their children are infants, parents can help nurture those important characteristics in them.

Here are the top five qualities your child will need, according to child-development experts, as well as some ways you can help your child develop each of these important characteristics.


Children who lack trust face an uphill developmental battle.

“Without trust, children are more likely to struggle to build relationships, feel confident, and move forward in life,” says Debbie Phillips, a child-development specialist. “Trust is instilled in your child from the moment they are born. You can bond with your baby in such a way that they develop a profound sense of security, faith in the world, and, ultimately, faith in themselves.”

In infancy, this means meeting your baby’s basic needs. When they are hungry, feed them. When they want to be cuddled, hold them. Make the most of your everyday interactions with your bay by talking to them, singing to them, and making eye contact. Introduce rituals such as reading a story before bedtime to create a truly safe feeling. As your child grows, tailoring your actions to their personality will help them trust you more.


It’s true what they say: Good things come to those who wait. According to Claire Lerner, a child-development specialist, children who learn patience are more likely to succeed. Teaching a child patience can help them develop a sense of independence and accomplishment.

According to Jody Johnston Pawel, a parent educator and author of The Parent’s Toolkit: The Universal Blueprint for Building a Healthy Family, children are like sponges: they soak up everything. If you lose your cool when you encounter heavy traffic or a long line, you will set a bad example. However, if you stay calm, your child will be more likely to follow your example the next time they’re about to lose their cool.


To be successful in life, Doreen Virtue, a psychotherapist and the author of Your Emotions, Yourself, believes that children must be given a degree of responsibility to learn accountability.

Responsibilities can start at a young age and can be in the form of daily chores. Of course, we are frequently so pressed for time that we discourage our children from doing chores because they take too long. If you’re short on time, pick one or two key responsibilities and make sure to enforce them.


According to experts, empathy is essential for the development of a child’s social competence. To have successful relationships, your child needs to understand how their actions affect others and respond appropriately. While babies exhibit a primitive form of empathy, children do not fully develop the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others until they are between the ages of three and six. Before that, they had difficulty seeing the world through the eyes of anyone other than themselves. When a 2-year-old bumps his friend on the head, for example, he doesn’t understand how much it hurts because he hasn’t felt anything himself.

However, there are many things you can do to help a child develop empathy. Because your toddler is so egocentric, asking him, “How would you feel if that happened to you?” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, explain to him the consequences of his actions. Explain to him that biting his brother hurts and may result in a boo-boo. If you see another child with a skinned knee, comment on how painful it must be. And be prepared to make those remarks repeatedly.

Take care when watching television. If you watch cartoons in which characters beat up on each other, explain how that would feel in real life. While your child’s perception of reality and fantasy remains hazy, you’ll plant the seed of an important lesson.


Your child will grow up with a strong enough inner compass and learn how to make sound decisions on their own if they learn to act independently. The ability to solve problems is perhaps the most effective trait you can pass on to your child, one that will help them be patient, responsible, and self-sufficient.

If your child is frustrated because she can’t play with another child’s toy, acknowledge her dissatisfaction while encouraging her to seek alternative solutions.

Break down difficult tasks for your child into small steps, and then let them master each step on their own. They’ll feel more confident about tackling larger problems if you teach your child how to tackle smaller problems first.


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