Modeling and Setting High Standards

Winner, Gifted Children, 191-2

High achievement seems almost never to occur without at least one parent (or parents surrogate) who both models hard work and pushes the child to work hard.  More often it is the mother who pushes, at least in our culture.  (According to one informal source, both parents in China play an equally strong role.)….

Parents of children who get identified as gifted believe in work before play. They disapprove of wasting time, doing sloppy work, and shirking responsibility.  They model these values themselves by working hard and by engaging in active kinds of leisure….

Parents must practice what they preach.  Parents who push their children to achieve, but who are not themselves hard workers, have considerably less influence on their children’s achievement than do parents who both expect a great deal and accomplish much themselves…

Parents must not only achieve but also have time for their children.  Nobel Prize winners are likely to have little time for their children, while parents who achieve less–who are successful but do not reach the peaks–may in fact prove the most effective parents.  Similarly, parents who value achievement but who were themselves deprived of the opportunity to achieve, as in some immigrant groups, often pour all their energies into their children’s accomplishments and end up with high-achieving offspring.

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