top of page

7 Things Children Must Know to Be Successful

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those that have come before us.

Formal education is important, particularly in certain fields, but we should not discount the fact 85% of our success comes from soft skills. This includes our ability to socialize and interact with other people. (Three different research projects over the past 100 years from Harvard, Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford confirm these percentages).

Based on research, and my own experiences, these are the areas in which I would make sure my child was proficient to give them the greatest chance for success.

1. Communication:

  1. Look people in the eyes and smile.

  2. Greet people with a hello, a firm handshake, and introduce yourself.

  3. Do not gossip. Creating a reputation of trustworthiness is important.

  4. Create a dossier on your relationships which include:

    1. Birthday, anniversary, children, schools attended, hobbies.

    2. Why? It helps you commit these to memory, and you will have these facts easily assessable when you need them. Most importantly, we should treat others like we want to be treated. Showing someone they are worthy of your time by remembering important milestones in their life is a character trait we should all seek to attain.

  5. Send hand-written thank you notes.

  6. Learn to practice active listening by repeating back to the person what you heard them say.

  7. Seek to understand the other person’s position on any given topic.

2. Dining Skills (Basics):

  1. Place your napkin in your lap.

  2. Do not begin eating until your host begins.

  3. Do not speak with food in your mouth.

  4. Do not gobble up your food. Eat at the same pace as the rest of the table.

  5. Use your utensils starting from the outside and work in.

  6. Set your utensil down after each bite.

  7. Do not talk with a utensil in your hand.

  8. Ask for an item to be passed. Do not reach across the table.

  9. When you are finished and leave the table, place your napkin to the left of your plate.

“In today’s culture parents are increasingly challenged in mentoring their children with fundamental rules of etiquette,” says Thomas Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. Corley spent five years studying the traits of both the successful and unsuccessful and discovered strong connections between, what he calls, “rich habits” and “poverty habits.” He went on to say, “The family dinner experience has been replaced with fast food and eating dinner on the couch. Social media has replaced the family conversation. All of this makes it increasingly difficult for parents to teach basic manners to their children.”

Parents, the number one thing I recommend is to have dinner as a family, at the table, as often as possible. Set the table with the correct plates and utensils. Just like an athlete, we should practice like we play. If you practice good table manners at home, these will become second nature for your child when they are out in public.

3. Image/Learning to Dress:

  1. Just as soldiers wear specific uniforms for certain events, so do civilians.

    1. Work: different professions have individual dress codes. A doctor wears scrubs. A priest might wear a liturgical robe. If you are unsure what your work dress code is, copy your boss. If he wears a tie, you wear a tie. If she wears a business suit, you wear a business suit.

    2. Job Interview: Err on the dressier side. Business suit for women and suit with tie for men (depending on the type of job you are interviewing for).

  2. Image matters! People WILL judge you on what you wear and how you present yourself. If you walk hunched over, you tell people you are insecure. If your sportscoat is sloppy, it tells people you do not pay attention to details. If your clothes do not match, it appears you cannot dress yourself and “connect the dots.” How does this translate in the real world? “He is insecure. He does not take pride in how he looks. He cannot connect the dots. Is this who I want representing my company? Will he be able to interact with clients? Will he have the attention to detail I need to handle the financial statements of our business?”

4. Manners:

  1. Always say please.

  2. Always say thank you.

  3. Say Yes, not Yeah.

  4. Do not interrupt.

  5. Keep your eyes focused on the person speaking to you. Do not look around the room (even if you are not interested in what they are saying). This will give the impression they are unimportant.

  6. Learn to compliment others.

  7. The wise man holds his tongue. Learn to keep negative thoughts to yourself.

  8. Do not curse.

  9. Remember that manners are a condition of your heart. Do not be rude! Your manners show everyone who you really are on the inside.

"It's …a very competitive world. People are seeking etiquette training to stay on top of their game," says Patricia Napier-Fitzgerald, founder of The Etiquette School of New York.

5. Set Goals:

a. What are you trying to achieve?

b. Is it attainable?

c. By when do you want to achieve it?

d. What actions will you need to take to reach your goal?

e. Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed?

When children are little, start with small things. Maybe one goal every month, depending on their age. A goal our son made when he was little was to take the training wheels off his bike. Was this an attainable goal? Yes. We showed him what he needed to do to be successful, and he achieved his goal.

6. Time Management:

b. Teach a structured daily schedule.

c. Teach organizational skills.

7. Social Capital:

a. Definition: Social capital is the network of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. “… 88% of (successful) people agree with the statement, ‘Relationships are critical to financial success,’” says Corley.

b. How do you attain social capital? Networking, being active in your church and in your community. Joining professional organizations and volunteer groups. Attend events, become involved, give back to society. Those that stay home miss out on building social capital. Most jobs and opportunities are not found through advertisements and bulletin boards. They are found through word of mouth. One thing I will caution against. Do not join a group just to network. As Wayne Baker states in his book Achieving Success Through Social Capital,If a person joins an association just to ‘network,’ people see right through the false front. But if you join an association you believe in—one that has a mission you are passionate about—you will form new relationships as a natural by-product of your involvement with the association. Social capital is the by-product, sometimes a very deliberate and conscious by-product, of the pursuit of meaningful activities.”

c. Even God uses social capital to accomplish His plans! Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, but through hardship, trials, and hard work, he found himself in proximity to those that made the decisions. He gave his best in whatever job was assigned to him. People noticed, including the Pharaoh. Being in proximity to the Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt could observe Joseph, and Joseph earned his trust. This opened the door for Joseph to be named Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers were also placed in positions of authority because of their connections to Joseph. The Pharaoh trusted Joseph, so he also trusted Joseph’s brothers. This is social capital at work. People are naturally more comfortable working with those they have been around, those they know personally or remotely. And decision makers are more likely to take a chance on someone based on a personal recommendation.

Education is important, but do not neglect the significance of soft skills that will define 85% of most people’s success: communication; dining skills; image; manners; setting goals; time management; social capital. It may seem like a lot to accomplish, but you have been given approximately 18 years with your child to train them in the way they should go. Though these 7 points are critical for your child’s future, the most important role we have as parents is to give our children a foundation based on God’s word.

How do we do this? “…the value that God placed on teaching our children the truth is clearly addressed by Moses who stressed to his people the importance of teaching their children about the Lord and His commands and laws: ‘Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates.’ Deuteronomy 6:7-9.”

Teach them to serve the One who provides all things. “…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." -Joshua 24:15 (emphasis mine).

And remember, parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”-Proverbs 22:6. “Parents have been given the privilege of being stewards of their children’s lives for a very short time, but the teaching and training they provide is eternal. According to the promise of Proverbs, a child who is diligently trained in the ‘way he should go’ will remain true to that way in this life and reap its rewards in the next.”

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

1 Comment

Sami Reyna
Sami Reyna
Feb 25, 2021

Excellent post! Thank you, Lisa! I will definitely be using this advice on my children.

bottom of page