A study by Brown University, in which nearly 50,000 families were surveyed, concluded that habits picked up by children as early as age 9, will stay with them for life. Since most of those early years are spent at home, the bulk of the habits children adopt will come primarily from their parents.
As infants and toddlers, our brains are hard-wired by nature for “monkey see, monkey do” behavior, thanks to something called “Mirror Neurons. Thanks to these Mirror Neurons, children pick up the vast majority of their habits from their parents. Good or bad.
Whether you realize it or not you could be teaching your children certain bad habits that will set them up to struggle financially in life.
In a 2013 survey conducted by the Associated Press, they found that 80% of America’s adults struggle with joblessness, poverty, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.
While you may see yourself as good parents, stats don’t lie. Eighty percent of kids grow up to struggle financially as adults.
What are parents doing wrong? And what can parents do to set their kids up for success?
I spent five years studying the habits, thinking and behaviors that 177 self-made millionaires and 233 poor individuals learned from their parents. I share all of those habits in my bestselling, award-winning book, Rich Kids. Below is a sampling from my book of ten major areas where parents are failing their children:
Fail #1 – Toxic Friends
Children are influenced by their environment and that environment includes who they associate with on a regular basis. The parents of those 177 self-made millionaires in my study were obsessed with who their kids associated with. Were their friends good or bad influences? Were their friends exposing them to good or bad habits? Were their friends good or bad students? What type of parents do my child’s friends have? The friends your child spends the most time with are the ones you need to be worried about. How well do you know your child’s friends? How well do you know their parents?
Fail #2 – Your Children Don’t Read
How many books does your child read a week, a month or a year? In my study, 63% of those self-made millionaires were required by their parents to read two or more books a month. But not just any books. They had to read books that increased their knowledge in some way. What books should you be making your kids read?
- Biographies of other successful people.
- History or historical fiction books.
- Science fiction or science-related books.
- Hobby books.
- Personal development books.
- Literary classics.
- Philosophy books.
- Sports legends.
- Travel books.
It didn’t end there. The parents of those self-made millionaires quizzed their kids about the books they made them read. Their kids could not escape accountability because they knew Mommy or Daddy would ask them about the books they were supposed to be reading.
Famous Neurosurgeon and former Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson’s mother, made he and his brother Curtis read every day and then she required them to give her a summary of the books they read at the end of every week. Dr. Carson said he was not happy being made to read but, after realizing there was no escape, he decided to read books that interested him. These happened to include biographies of other rich and successful people. Dr. Carson recounts in his own books, Gifted Hands and One Nation, that many of those successful people he read about rose from poverty. Many were even poorer and less educated than he was. And he thought to himself if those poor people can become successful why can’t I? Dr. Carson then dedicated himself to becoming a straight A student so he could go to college and then to medical school to become a Doctor. Books literally changed his life. One habit, reading for self-improvement, forced upon him by his Mom, completely changed his life. Are you making your kids read to learn every day?
Fail #3 – Poor Health Habits
In my Rich Habits Study, the parents of self-made millionaires made sure their kids ate right and exercised almost every day. Seventy percent of those millionaires were taught by their parents the Rich Habit of eating healthy and avoiding junk food. Too much junk food leads to obesity, can result in Type II Diabetes and can damage your heart and arteries. Seventy-six percent of the parents of those self-made millionaires made sure their kids to exercised twenty- thirty minutes each day. The predominant exercise was cardio-related: running, jogging, etc. Blood’s major purpose in the body is to carry nutrients (glucose and oxygen) to the cells and to carry waste out through our lungs in the form of carbon dioxide. When we exercise we increase blood flow throughout the body. The more you exercise the greater the blood flow. This means more nutrients and more waste removal. Exercise also increases blood flow into the Dentrate Gyrus. The Dentrate Gyrus is part of our brain’s Hippocampus, a region involved in memory formation and neurogenisis (birth of new brain cells). Exercise also stimulates the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDFN). BDFN is miracle grow for brain cells. Exercise, particularly cardio, is like candy for the brain. It actually grows the size of the brain and increases your IQ. Are you feeding your kids the right candy? If not, then you are failing your kids.
Fail #4 – Video Screen Overload
In my study, 67% of the parents of self-made millionaires limited their kids TV time to one hour or less a day. Other modern day time wasters like cell phones, tiktok, Instagram, Snapchat, video games and iPads have replaced the T.V. but they are still time-wasting activities, just like T.V.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average 8-10 year old spends around eight hours a day staring at video screens: TVs, cell phones, iPads, video games, computers, etc. Most of this time is non-learning time, which means it’s wasted time. That time should be put to better use such as reading, studying, school club activities, volunteering, etc. Do you limit how much time your kids spend staring at video screens?
Fail #5 – No Control Over Words and Emotions
Eighty-one percent of the self-made millionaires in my study were taught by their parents to control their words and emotions. As a result, these millionaires were able to build strong, powerful relationships with others, as adults. Their parents taught them that not every thought needs to come out of their mouth and not every emotion needs to be expressed. Doing so damages relationships; relationships that could otherwise open important doors for them. Are you teaching your kids to control their thoughts and emotions?
Fail #6 – Undiscovered Talent
Eighty percent of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study had uncovered some innate talent, as children, that they devoted the rest of their lives perfecting. As adults, they monetized their innate talents and became very wealthy as a result.
Finding your innate talents, I discovered from my research, requires experimentation. Parents fail their children when they pigeon-hole their kids into two or three activities, typically sports activities.
How can a child ever find out what their innate talents are if they are limited to two or three activities?
Only by exposing your children to dozens of activities during their childhood will children be able to discover their inner talents. Everyone has unique, special talents. Are you exposing your kids to different activities every year?
Fail #7 – Negative Thinking
Seventy-one percent of the self-made millionaires in my study were indoctrinated by their parents to be optimistic about life. They were taught to believe in themselves. As a result, they enthusiastically pursued their dreams and goals as adults. Their optimism infected everyone around them. They became magnets for other success-minded people. This helped them in creating teams that would eventually lead them to success. Are your children being raised with a positive mental outlook?
Fail #8 – Me First
In order to get, you must first give. You must give value to others if you want to succeed in life. Giving always comes first. It was no surprise that 79% of the self-made millionaires in my study were required to volunteer for charities or non-profit groups when they were young. This forged a habit out of giving. Many of the individuals who run non-profits or charities are successful people. They have developed strong relationships with other success-minded people. These contacts can help open doors for your children. Are your children volunteering?
Fail #9 – Entitlement Mindset
Entitlement Thinking is a Poor Habit that creates dependence. The successful individuals in my study were raised to believe that the world did not owe them a living and nothing in life is free. When you are given things for free, those free things have little to no value. My self-made millionaires were taught that you have to work for everything you want in life. This builds character and raises kids to become self-sufficient. The self-made millionaires in my study were raised to believe that they alone were responsible for providing for themselves. Entitlement Thinking is a cancer that will program your mind for poverty. Are your kids being raised with an Entitlement Mindset?
Fail #10 – Victim Mindset
Thirty-one percent of the millionaires in my study came from abject poverty. Forty-five percent came from the middle-class. These 177 self-made millionaires were able to rise above their impoverished or modest financial circumstances in life and become rich. They didn’t do it by blaming others, the government, Wall Street or rich people. They did it by taking responsibility for their lives and breaking free of the habits, thinking and behavior that limit success in life. When blaming others for your circumstances becomes a habit, you’re resting your butt on a broken stool. That stool will eventually collapse, dragging you to the ground. Accepting individual responsibility for your life, your habits, your behaviors, your choices and your thinking gives you a ladder to help you climb out from underneath your mistakes and failures. Blaming others for your life circumstances relegates your children to a life of poverty, because your children will be indoctrinated to believe their adult poverty is not their fault. They’re just victims of poverty. And that’s nonsense. It it were true then no poor person could become rich. Yet 31% of the rich in my study climbed out of poverty. They may have been poor but their parents raised them with a can do, rather than a can’t do mindset. Are you raising your kids to believe that they are victims?
It’s up to parents to mentor their kids to succeed in life. If parents don’t step in and mentor their kids, trust me, someone else will. Someone who may not have your kids best interest at heart. Your kids are like clay. You can mold that clay into any sculpture. Make that sculpture a work of art for you and the world to admire.