What makes a good parent? What does it take to be successful in the noblest task of raising children? This job is daunting because there are no rules, no formula, no one to tell you exactly how to do it.

Science can sometimes do the trick in helping a parent raise an achiever. For example, the American Psychological Association found that children become more motivated when their efforts are acknowledged and not just their abilities. There is also a science in eating healthy, sleeping, and playing to help kids in school. However, parents know that achievements do not really make children great. It is in teaching kids to have good character that makes the difference. Studies show that most parents recognize that the qualities of a great kid go beyond what he becomes as an adult. The Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology reported that majority of parents from the 50 countries included in its study considered caring, and not achievement, as the value that mattered most.

Parents want nothing but the best for their children. Parents dream that their kids top their classes and go on to be the best in their field. Most of all, parents want their children to have a high degree of self-worth, compassion for others, and a sense of purpose. That sets the difference between a great kid from a good one.

Play builds character
According to a blog post of PlaygroundEquipment.com, playing is one of the strongest and fondest memories of childhood. Unfortunately, hyper-vigilant style of parenting is keeping kids indoors and the popularity of technology is keeping kids in front of TV, computer, and mobile screens.

The outdoors and the playground are the natural place for a child. The importance of play to a kid’s behavior is something experts vouch for. When kids play, they learn to interact, negotiate, make decisions, solve problems, and develop self-control. Peter Gray, author of two studies published in the American Journal of Play said that through free play, children “are acquiring the basic competencies we ultimately need as adults.” Gray wrote that today’s children are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, and narcissism because of the decrease in play and overly protective parents.

Peter LaFreniere, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Maine agrees that free play helps teach emotional regulation. He said that at play “children learn there are consequences to their actions; they learn to regulate the aggression even in the heat of the moment.” The rough-and-tumble play and trying to get hold of a playground equipment first help kids manage their aggression and keep their anger in check.

Give praises, not rewards
Giving rewards is an easy trick to make children do what you ask of them. However, another research by the American Psychological Association found that giving rewards should be discouraged. It said that instead of rewards, be generous with praises. This is especially valuable when a child is developing a stronger sense of identity.

Furthermore, psychology professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University also suggests praising kids for what they did and not their person. For example, instead of saying “you are brilliant,” tell the child “what you did was brilliant.”

Never use the shame game
A child will make mistakes and make selfish decisions. Whatever happens, don’t shame them. Psychologist Nancy Eisenberg suggests that shame emerges when parents express anger and asserts their authority by unleashing threats of punishment. This makes children feel like they are bad people. Eisenberg proposes that is better to express disappointment and disapproval instead. Explain to the child why the behavior was wrong and how he could fix things. This develops a sense of responsibility and a high degree of empathy for others. On the other hand, shame does nothing to the kid’s personality and just makes children feel small and worthless.

Teach them resilience
Resilient kids make great kids. It is a good character trait that makes children want to try things. They are aware that learning has setbacks but they are willing to go through them because they know they can overcome them. Allow your kids to try, fail, and try again. Who knows, they might even win.

They say it is harder being a kid these days. There’s bullying, higher expectations, complicated lifestyle, and so on. In the face of all these, resiliency is a true quality of a great kid.

Teach them to be kind --- to themselves
Your kids will get disappointed and even devastated. Teach them to give themselves a break and cut themselves some slack. When they fail an exam, allow them to feel bad about it but also remind them that things will be okay. In an article for Independent online, writer and parent coach Hilary Wilce wrote that a kind disposition is a characteristic of a good child. She cited a research showing that being kind to oneself build confidence, stronger relationships, and help kids face challenges better. Parents would also be glad to know that children who are not hard on themselves end up earning more money and having more satisfying careers.

Teach them self-discipline
A child needs discipline to finish what he started. He needs discipline to manage his time, manage tasks at hand, and keep mental focus. He also needs to control his impulses and emotions. Self-discipline can be exercised even in a playground when a child is to wait in line, finish a game, and manage his energy.

Even parents realize that it is not enough for a child to get high grades in school to really be successful. Achievements in school and later on in his chosen career do not make a child a great human being. It is character that makes them great. Start them young with free play and other activities that are natural to a child. Hold their hand while they go through learning. Provide a solid support system and help them develop the skills and traits necessary to be well-rounded, motivated and ultimately, great individuals.

Author's Bio: 

Anna Rodriguez is a manager and a passionate writer. She owns Homey Guide Blog. You can follow her at @annrodriguez021.