In most families, it’s considered lucky if just one of the kids ends up being a huge success. But what if you could guarantee that each and every one of your children grew up to be wealthy? Esther Wojcicki is a mom and teacher living in Palo Alto, California, who raised two CEOs and a doctor. Her daughter Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube, her second daughter Janet is a doctor and a professor of Pediatrics, and her third daughter, Anne, was the co-founder of 23 And Me.
After spending a lifetime raising three successful daughters, Esther Wojcicki decided to publish the book How to Raise Successful People. In her book, she goes over some of the principles of how to help your kids grow up to be the best they can possibly be. Here are just a few tips on how she made that happen.
Esther Wojcicki has an acronym called “TRICK” with the most important elements of raising a child. T stands for “Trust” You need to trust your child and teach them that they can trust you too. Trust in your child’s ability to make their own decisions in life. After all, if you know that you raised a good child, show them that level of respect that you believe they’ll do the right thing.
It’s understandable if you feel afraid that your child will make bad decisions. But by trusting them to do the right thing, they won’t want to let you down. Remember that trust should only be broken if you have a good reason to do so. Give your child the opportunity to be trustworthy. If they get into trouble, regroup and make them understand that they need to regain your trust again.
Children should respect themselves as well as others. Early in life, children are taught to respect their elders as well as their teachers. As adults, we only respect the people who deserve it- not just because someone told us to respect them. Kids feel the same way. Someday in the future, your kids will have to respect their boss if they want to succeed. If they want to get far in life, they should know how to identify when someone else is treating them with respect so that they can avoid a situation where they are being taken advantage of. So it is vital to help guide them through this process.
The first step in teaching your kids respect is to treat them with respect. This is not achieved by punishing kids and ordering them to obey. You should not snap your fingers, yell, or order your kids around. They will pick up on this behavior, and start to treat other people this way, and that is disrespectful. Instead of overreacting when something goes wrong, have a conversation and try to work through it together. By modeling respectful behavior, your kids will grow up to be respectful kids.
The next letter of TRICK is I, which stands for “Independence.” Let your children think for themselves. Don’t try to tell them how to think or feel, but instead allow them to form their own opinions about life. Also, give them a sense of autonomy out in the world. Encourage them to do things for themselves like getting dressed and tying their own shoes, but also give them a certain level of responsibility to do things on their own.
In countries like Japan, children are trusted to go out on errands alone from a very early age. Americans would be shocked to see just how independent kindergarteners can be. They can ride the subway, pay for things, and even go to school alone. Unfortunately, the crime rate in the United States is so high that parents should never allow their kids that same level of independence because it would be considered neglect. But it’s still valuable to understand that kids are capable of so much more if only we let them do things for themselves.
Collaboration is one of the biggest job skills that employers are looking for in their prospective employees, regardless of what their GPA was in school. Almost all employees are going to have to work together on a team to collaborate on a project at some point in time. So it only makes sense to teach your kids about collaboration and teamwork. Most of the time, they’ll learn this in school through working on group projects. However, depending on your school system, the success of this collaboration can be hit or miss.
You can also help your child learn about collaboration by signing them up for an after-school activity. They could play sports, join the girl scouts, local theater, or go to summer camp.
As adults, it’s far too easy to forget to treat people with kindness. We have all witnessed people being nasty to one another, and it’s obvious that this isn’t the way to succeed in the real world. Kindness and empathy are always two important factors in being a good person, and it can also transition to success in the workplace. The first step in teaching your kids kindness is to be nice to them! Don’t tease them too often or put them down for their mistakes. Also, work on being kind to other people. Children will almost always model your behavior.
Another great way to teach children about kindness is to get them involved in community service. Get them to actively donate their old toys, explaining to them that there are poor children out there who don’t have toys to play with. This will make them feel good to give, and they are more likely to do this as they get older.
35. Let Them Choose Their Own Interests
Every kid has a passion for something, whether it’s ponies or Power Rangers. Allow your kids to indulge in the things they love and take them to whatever extracurricular activities that you can afford. Fostering a child’s passion teaches them to go after their passion in life. And if they can enter an activity with that passion and motivation, they will begin to understand how getting good at something takes time and practice.
Sadly, a lot of adults struggle to figure out what their passion actually is, because it was stamped out when they were kids. There is an old saying; “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Adults are the most successful when they are in a career where they feel passionate about what they are doing. So make sure you are not the reason why your child’s passion was stamped out at a young age.
34. Encourage Volunteerism
It’s crucial to let your kids know that it is important to help others. During an interview with CNBC, Esther Wojcicki said, “I grew up believing it was my duty to contribute and make our community better. I still feel that way. If everyone just sits around and talks, nothing gets done.” She led by example and began to do community service, making her daughters participate in the process.
Wojcicki went on to say; “All of this influenced my daughters, not because I lectured to them about the importance of serving the community — but because I truly cared.”
33. Lead by Example
Whether they like to admit it or not, your kids look up to you. So the best way for them to behave in a certain way is to lead by example. For example, if you want them to eat healthily and study hard, start cooking vegetables every night and show them your work ethic. Kids will not just magically become the perfect little human being. They are constantly learning from you like a little sponge.
Don’t mistake this for lecturing your kids about how hard you work. The phrase “Do as I say and not as I do” is totally wrong. Show them how to behave through your actions. By reflecting in on your own behavior, you may just end up becoming a better person, too.
32. Care Deeply About Human Issues
Earlier in this list, we already talked about the importance of taking your kids to community service and volunteer activities. It is also important to teach them about the issues in the world at large. Yes, there are some problems that are too dark to tell your kids at an early age. You don’t want to over-burden them. However, it is still possible for them to understand that they can make a difference in the world.
As they get older, let your kids watch the news, and try to discuss human issues with them. If you are not already aware of some of these issues yourself, you can learn about them together. This just may spark something in your child that will motivate them to want to make a difference.
31. Don’t Let Them Fall For The “American Dream”
The so-called “American Dream” encourages children that they can do anything the want to do, so long as the work hard enough. And once they succeed financially, they should be happy. So society keeps pushing the idea to work hard, make a lot of money, and buy a lot of stuff. According to Esther Wojcicki, this is a recipe for disaster. “As a result, they often end up isolated and depressed. I’ve met lots of unhappy millionaires and even some unhappy billionaires. A lot of them probably started out as directionless kids.”
Teach your kids that money is not everything. You don’t want your kids tied down to a job they hate. So instead of encouraging them to follow the “American Dream,” try to help encourage them to figure out their life-long passion instead.
30. Prioritize Your Life’s Purpose
Instead of focusing all of your time and attention on getting rich, you should try to figure out your life’s purpose. For a young child, this question is probably too deep and may put a lot of pressure on them to figure it out. However, you can still let your child know that they should focus on being happy and helping others rather than simply accumulating dollars.
People who focus on their life’s purpose typically end up being much happier. And a lot of the time, this will create passion that leads to success.
29. Don’t Be Afraid to Look Stupid
In one of her speeches given at the SingularityU Mexico Summit, Esther Wojcicki talked about how school systems are often afraid to change their method of doing things because they are afraid of looking stupid. So they would rather keep doing methods of doing things over and over again, even if it yields poor results. If they take a risk and something goes badly, it could ruin their reputation. However, she suggests that the only way to get better at educating your kids is by experimenting.
The same can be said about being a parent. As a mom or dad, you might want to be the authority figure who is always right in every situation. But the reality is that no one is perfect, and it is possible to be wrong sometimes. You should never be afraid of looking stupid in front of your kids, as long as you balance it out with showing that you’re resilient in making up for your mistakes.
28. Empathize With Others
Having empathy for other people is a truly important skill in life. It takes a while for kids to begin to understand how their actions affect other people. Try to help guide them in understanding how their words and actions make other people feel. Once they understand the concept of empathy, they will grow up to be good people.
People who have more empathy for others are more likely to figure out what people want and need in their lives. Every successful business on the planet has stemmed from providing a product or service that improves people’s lives. Therefore, a heightened sense of empathy is like giving kids a toolbox for success.
27. Rote Memorization is Not The Same as Learning
Everyone has experienced studying for an exam a few days beforehand by memorizing information. A few weeks later, you might forget everything completely. And years later, you may not even remember the name of your teacher. Memorizing facts is not the same as learning. When you actually learn, these lessons will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You may not be able to control what goes on inside of your child’s classroom, but you could always try to help them with their homework. Or realize that these facts and figures are not the most important things an adult needs to know anyway. Try to plan real-life learning experiences with your kids based on the principles that are the most important to you and your partner.
26. Give Them Hands-On Experiences
Children do really well with learning through hands-on experiences. For example, you may write numbers on a chalkboard, but a kid may not fully understand mathematics until you put some blocks in front of them that they are able to count. Or, you may explain the concept of an animal to them and show a photograph, but they will not fully understand or remember what this animal is like until they saw it at the zoo.
Hands-on experiences do not stop at elementary school, either. Try to bring your kids to as many museums and real-life experiences as possible. Many museums offer certain days of the year when tickets are free, so take a look in your local areas to see what there is available.
25. Their GPA Doesn’t Matter
A student’s GPA, or Grade Point Average, is made out to be a big deal in high school and college. The smartest kids are often given awards and recognized by everyone as being the best and the brightest. However, a high GPA just means that these students were good at memorizing facts and figures. It says nothing about their people skills, or anything else they need to succeed in the real world.
In fact, some of the most successful people in the world were actually C students. Some of them even flunked out of college. Many of the top companies in the country do not care about your GPA. They just want to know if you have the skills to do a good job. If your children are putting a lot of pressure on themselves to get straight A’s, remind them that as long as they are learning, it’s okay to get a B or C. And if they have the motivation to succeed, that’s all that matters.
24. Encourage Creativity
One of the number one skills that employers look for in their new hires is a sense of creativity. This is not necessarily just in the arts, either. Nearly every type of business is going to have some moment where it is necessary to think outside of the box. This all starts with creativity as a child.
Sadly, a lot of school systems are cutting back on programs for the arts because of a lack of funding. If your child is going to one of these school districts, try to replace their art education by giving them creative activities to do at home.
23. Give Your Kids More Freedom
In today’s world, it can be scary to think about giving your kids too much freedom. With so much crime, you are probably afraid something may happen to them. However, if you are a “helicopter parent,” they are likely to not do very well with independence. Try to practice giving your kids more freedom in their everyday life. (Or you can at least give them the illusion of having freedom while you still keep a watchful eye on them!)
You can give your kids more freedom by allowing them to choose something in the grocery store, getting dressed by themselves in the morning, or walking just a few steps ahead. As they get older, you will probably begin to notice more opportunities where it is possible to give your child freedom instead of doing those for them. So always seize those opportunities and your kids will be much more self-reliant as adults.
22. Don’t Use The iPad as a Babysitter
Nowadays, nearly every kid knows how to use an iPad and iPhone. Sometimes, they are even better than their parents! While it’s okay to let your kids play games sometimes, do not use the iPad as a babysitter or to calm them down from having a temper tantrum. If anything, this is actually teaching them bad behavior.
If you give your children an iPad when they are behaving badly, it’s essentially rewarding their temper tantrums. Instead of automatically rushing to grab your electronic devices, try to sooth them in other ways. Teach them that it’s not okay to be on a device 24/7, and there are going to be times where you need to be present in what is going on around you in the real world.
21. Teach Them to Care About The Environment
Climate change is coming whether you are ready for it or not. Even if past generations made decisions to hurt the environment, that does not mean we should give up hope. Teach your children to be conscious of the amount of waste they are producing with both trash and fossil fuels.
The health of the ocean is also incredibly important for our ecosystem. Take time to show your kids documentaries like Planet Earth so that they can see how beautiful the world truly is. Take them to the beach, and give them experiences that will help them understand why we need to save our planet.
So, how does caring about the environment translate into success? It helps your child look at the big picture, and understand that there are problems in this world that need to be solved. For all you know, they may grow up to invent something that can cut down on carbon emissions, like how Elon Musk created luxury electric cars with Tesla.
20. Critical Thinking
Are you teaching your children to stop and think about something before they react with emotions? Critical thinking can be defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” This is incredibly important because your child needs to stop and analyze a situation before making a rash judgment. When people can think rationally through their problems, they are more likely to work through complex issues.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of adults who do not think critically. They jump to conclusions or lash out based on emotions stemming from insecurity. These kinds of people rarely ever get very far in life because they are not thinking critically.
20. Communication Skills
In the professional world, communication skills are perhaps one of the most important things people need to succeed. They need to know how to communicate well during a job interview, a presentation, and while working together with other people. Even if this advice sounds basic, you need to teach children some good old-fashioned manners.
Remember to tell your kids to truly listen to what other people are saying. They should be fully present in a conversation rather than just waiting for their turn to speak. You may want to start out using puppets so that kids can see an example of a good conversation between two people, or find educational content that will help them.
19. Instill a Passion For Learning
A lot of people make the assumption that you are either born “smart” or “stupid.” There is a myth that some people have the natural inclination to learn while others don’t. While it’s true that some people are natural-born geniuses, this isn’t the whole story. The reality is that you can teach your children to love learning, which can even raise their IQ from an early age.
Children who read at an early age usually succeed later in life. Everyone – not just children – become passionate about learning something when they are in control. The boredom only comes from something we are forced to learn even though we really don’t want to. Read bedtime stories when they are very young so that they know reading is fun. And once they are old enough, pay attention to their interests and find a way to expand on that. For example, if they love My Little Pony, maybe try to expand by getting them a book on horses. When they get older, they will naturally gravitate towards diving deeper into the things that interest them.
18. If You’re a Teacher, Change Just 20% Of Classroom Time
Esther Wojcicki spent her career working as a high school teacher, and her education methods were incredibly successful. Her idea is to spend at least 20% of classroom time allowing students to do their own self-guided learning. Normally, students have to sit and listen to a lecture every single day and are punished for speaking to each other in class. This gives them very few opportunities to collaborate. Wojcicki points out that everyone cares so much more about what they choose what they are learning. It also gives them the skill to be more creative and self-motivated once they enter the workforce.
During this self-guided time, students are not sitting in desks. They are collaborating in chairs and on couches, working on their own projects in their journalism class for the school magazine. As the teacher, Wojcicki is standing on the sidelines, waiting for students to ask questions if needed.
17. Prepare Kids For “Adulting”
After public schools got rid of Home Economics class, a lot of Millennials grew up not knowing how to do basic “adulting” skills like properly cleaning a house, cooking, or balancing a checkbook. All of these skills are essential to living a successful adult life. Are you teaching your kids the basic necessities, or hoping they figure it out when they get older?
Start incorporating cooking lessons into your weekends, and have your kids help clean from an early age. Remember that it’s okay if they make a mess at first. They’re still learning and it’s part of the process.
16. Give Them Time With Technology
In today’s world, it is necessary for children to know how to use computers, smartphones, and other technology. Nearly every job that exists is going to require them to use the Internet. Even if you are insistent that you want your kids to have an “old-fashioned” childhood without too much screen time, it is still necessary to make sure they know how to use computers.
As a parent, you can give them productive technology time so that they are using these tools to learn rather than wasting time. Sure, you could let them play Angry Birds for hours at a time, but will that really teach them anything valuable for the future? There are classes in robotics, coding, and 3D printing, and many of them can be found for free at your local library or community center. This will teach children to be productive with tech, rather than wasting time on social media.
15. Teach Them About The Importance of Media
In today’s world, unfortunately, algorithms on social media are trained to show us what it thinks we want to hear. During a speech, Esther Wojcicki recommends that children should be taught about media. She teaches an incredibly successful journalism program for high school students. All of her students are aware of how to find a reputable source, and can, therefore, spot questionable news when they see it.
Maybe your local area doesn’t have a journalism program like Wojcicki’s. You can still teach them about the basics of how the media works so they understand to be more critical of what they see in the news. Also teaching them about movies and TV will help them to understand the inner-workings of an industry that they may be interested in later on in life.
14. Encourage Diversity
Successful people like CEOs are expected to do business with people from all over the world. This requires you to be very cultured and accepting of other people’s differences. It’s all too easy to live in a bubble of your friends, family, neighbors, and local schools. Your children may grow up never meeting anyone who does not look like them unless you make an effort to expose them to diversity.
You can choose to travel to a foreign country or put your kids in a program where they will meet kids from all different backgrounds. The earlier a child meets other diverse people, the easier it will be for them to simply accept it as a normal part of their everyday life.
13. Give Them Entrepreneurial Skills
Whether your child wants to run a business or not, helping by giving them entrepreneurial skills will give them the tools to succeed in their career. If they have a really good grasp on how businesses work, they can become a great employee for someone else and eventually be a huge success.
One of the best ways to do this at an early age is to let them have a lemonade stand. Instead of providing them with all of the ingredients, teach them how much it costs to buy the lemons, sugar, and plastic cups. This will help them learn about expenses versus profit. If they are in a sports league, you could also volunteer to run the concession stand. Girl Scouts also learn entrepreneurial skills by selling cookies. There are many ways to accomplish this, so you just need to find the best fit for your kid.
12. Don’t Force Your Own Dreams On Your Kids
It may sound like a cliche, but a lot of parents truly do push their own dreams on their kids. You see this a lot in sports. Maybe the father believed he could have gone to the major leagues if he only practiced harder. So he pushes his own sons into joining multiple little league teams in hopes they’ll become a star. This kind of behavior happens over and over again, and it’s actually counterproductive.
Your child is an individual who has their own dreams. If they are living their life trying to please you and complete your dreams on your behalf, they’ll never have the opportunity to fulfill what they actually want to do. This becomes a vicious cycle. Let your kids pick what they actually love, and allow them to follow their passion. Maybe they won’t be the next major league star, but they could end up being a prima ballerina or a best-selling novelist instead.
11. There’s More To Life Than College
Once a child enters High School, they are told that going to college is the only way to succeed. For years, kids put a lot of pressure on themselves to get good grades and be accepted into a good school. But few of them figure out exactly what they love to do. Unfortunately, Millennials know all too well that just because you get a degree in something does not mean you will actually use it in your career. There are plenty of minimum-wage workers out there with college degrees.
Remember that some of the most successful people in the world didn’t finish college. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey all dropped out of college. They all had a strong sense of purpose and knew what they wanted to do with their lives. If your child is still going to college, that’s great too, of course. Just make sure they realize that there is a bigger world out there and that they focus more on what they love instead of what society tells them is “right.”
9. Don’t Do Everything For Them
As parents, you feel the need to protect and provide for your kids. But there is such a thing as doing too much for them. Some parents even go as far as to do their kid’s homework! Remember that if you do everything for your child, they will never learn how to do it themselves.
A shocking number of Millennials do not know how to do basic “adulting” skills, like laundry. This is shocking for some people to imagine, but it’s because parents completely sheltered their kids from doing real work in hopes that a college degree would afford them to hire a housekeeper someday. Remember that kids will eventually grow up and they need help being prepared for the real world.
8. Encourage Them to Seek Mentorship
In nearly every self-help book about success, there is almost always a mention of mentorship. But this can start at a much earlier age. Even if your child looks up to a student who is older than them, this can be a way to have someone who will guide them through the obstacles they will face. If your kids don’t have older siblings or cousins to help mentor them, consider programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Mentors could also be babysitters, nannies, and tutors that you hire to help your kids with their homework. If they already know what they want to do when the grow up, try to find a specialized program after school that will help them learn. For example, if they want to build robots, see if there is a robotics class offered at the local community center.
7. Give Them Realtime Feedback
When you were in school, you probably experienced getting a bad grade, and not feeling totally sure what you did wrong. It can be very frustrating to complete a project, only to be told to “go back and try it again” without any sense of direction. This is why it’s very important to give your kids realtime feedback. This way, you can congratulate your child when they are doing something right, but also pick up on their mistakes immediately so that you know what to work on.
However, do not mistake this with constantly hovering over their shoulder. This realtime feedback should be done when they are still learning how to do something. Once they get the hang of it, take a step back and let them work independently. Then, when they show you their work, congratulate them and give constructive criticism if needed.
6. The Value of Teamwork
Most successful adults have to work on a team at some point. Even super-geniuses like Elon Musk need a team of people to make his dreams into a reality. Plenty of schools offer group work, but this does not always turn into teamwork. In fact, a lot of the time, group work falls onto the “smartest” kid in the group while the lazy kids relax and hardly do anything. There is a huge difference between that sort of group work and experience where kids are truly all contributing something vital to a team.
If your children cannot achieve this sort of experience in the public school system, try to seek opportunities outside of school. Not sure where to start? Check out your local community center and join the Facebook group for your local town. You could find loads of opportunities that you never knew existed.
5. Give Them Positive Incentives
Positive incentive always works better than negative, whether you are a child or an adult. After all, if you were not given money to go to your job, would you show up to work? Think about the following statements: “If you don’t clean up your room, you’re grounded!” versus “If you clean up your room, you can spend an hour playing Minecraft.” The second option sounds a lot more appealing to a child, right? Instead of punishing kids for disobeying you, give them incentives for positive behavior.
Give your children rewards for their efforts. Consider giving them an allowance if they get good grades in school or if they do their chores. An allowance can also help them learn to manage money properly. And if they do not do their chores, they can’t complain about not getting what they want. Remind them that if they do their chores, they get their reward. This is exactly like the real world. If you work hard, success will follow.
4. Think About The Big Picture
Too many people are focused on their own problems that they forget to look at the big picture. Teach your kids about the world at large and why it’s important for them to know about global issues. Aside from the issues, they should also understand that there is a huge world of possibilities out there for them. If you teach your kids to only think about everything that’s happening in your small town and the opportunities available there, they may never have the opportunity to move somewhere else and achieve their dreams.
Teaching kids about the “big picture” can also mean helping them understand how one thing leads to another, and how an industry works. For example, tropical fruit is grown in other countries, shipped by boat to the United States, and sent in trucks to the grocery store. By understanding “big picture” concepts like this, kids will begin to look at the world around them in a different way, and it may spark inspiration for a budding entrepreneur.
3. Give Them Multiple Representations
If your child is struggling to understand something you are teaching them, it may be that they just need to see a different example. Try to give them hands-on and real-life experiences whenever you can. For example, if you are teaching them about farming and sustainability, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to bring them to a farm so they can see it in real life?
Giving multiple representations of a lesson becomes especially important for the core values that you wish to teach your child. Make a list together with your partner of what core values you think will bring success to your child’s life and create a plan together on how to show them examples of this again and again.
2. Conflict Resolution
All successful people have to deal with conflict resolution. In fact, the higher someone gets in life, the more issues they will have the mediate between their employees. These are skills that you can learn as an adult, but it’s also possible to foster from an early age. A great place to start is sibling arguments. All siblings bicker with one another, and yet a lot of parents simply tell them to “stop” without actually giving them the tools on how to deal with conflict resolution.
Not sure where to start? A great book to read about conflict resolution is Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Every single student who goes to law and business school is required to read this book. It teaches you how to express yourself in statements that go inward instead of blaming another person for the problem. It also talks about the power of negotiation and how two people can walk away from a conflict feeling they got what they wanted.
1. Grit & Resilience
All successful people have one thing in common: They all have grit and resilience. In fact, it’s considered to be the #1 factor in what makes or breaks someone’s likelihood of success later in life. Grit is defined as “a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.”
Teach your child not to be afraid of failure. If they stumble, teach them to get back up again. One of the many ways to teach this is by putting them in sports. They will learn from their coach how to practice and keep moving towards their goals. Remember that it’s okay your kids get frustrated and feel out of their comfort zone. All of these small struggles will make them stronger in the long run.