Can parents turn their kids into superstars?
The odds of a high school football player being drafted into the NFL is one in 4,416 and the odds of a high school softball player playing professionally is one in 19,506, according to Scholarship Stats. Although the odds of going pro are slim, many parents will do just about anything to help their kids achieve stardom.
A new study of young superstars including Olympic medalists, chess players, college athletes, award-winning musicians and a National Spelling Bee champion found that having intensely dedicated parents may be the key to success.
“Talent might partially be born, but it is largely made — made by parents who devote their full measure to fostering their children’s talent development,” said Kenneth Kiewra, educational psychologist and lead study author, in a news release.
A group of 24 parents of youth prodigies were interviewed and each parent had one common similarity – they all made big sacrifices. Some had given up their jobs, while others mortgaged their homes or even spent their retirement savings to help their children succeed.
Researchers found that parents helped create an environment for success by identifying their child’s talent at an early age, offering expert coaching and providing them the opportunity to practice for an extended amount of time. They also found that parents pushed their children to work hard and stay motivated.
“Supporting our children may mean making many sacrifices to aid in their success, but we also must remember that there are many paths to success and many positive ways to help our children develop into happy, accomplished adults,” says Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. “It is also important that parents have balance in their lives and maintain a sense of individuality separate from their children.”
Competitive sports and other activities can also offer many benefits for children.
Dr. Roberts says parents can teach their children many important life lessons in discipline and hard work, which can lead to future success by ensuring their children uphold their commitment to the team and put forth full effort in practice.
“While hard work is not always fun, we want to ensure that the child’s overall experience with the activity is positive,” Dr. Roberts says. “We can do this by checking in with our kids about their enjoyment of the activity and taking care to emphasize effort, not just outcome, when it comes to the feedback that we offer our kids.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.