How Children Succeed

I am walking through Target with my three year old and stop to brows the book section. I am a sucker for parenting books and this title really caught my eye. “How CHILDREN SUCCEED” it blared in all caps. I picked it up expecting to read about a regiment of early chess lessons and lots of worksheets. But then I read the subtitle “Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” and I decided maybe this would be something worth reading. I must have had the good book fairy on my shoulder that day because in my quick skim I stumbled on the quote below. As I read tears welled up and I stood petting my daughter’s hair as she flipped through a Dora coloring book. This is it, the science behind our instincts to nurture, love and support our children. To find this in such a mainstream place was heartening. To read such a clear confirmation that not only do we nurture because it feels right, but because it leads to their future happiness and general success in life was so reassuring.

“But to me, the most profound discovery this new generation of neuroscientists has made is the powerful connection between infant brain chemistry and adult psychology. Lying deep beneath those noble, complex human qualities we call character, these scientists have found, is the mundane, mechanical interaction of specific chemicals in the brains and bodies of developing infants. Chemistry is not destiny, certainly. But these scientists have demonstrated that the most reliable way to produce and adult who is brave and curious and kind and prudent is to ensure that when he is an infant, his hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functions well. And how do you do that? It is not magic. First, as much as possible, you protect him from serious trauma and chronic stress; then, even more important, you provide him with a secure, nurturing relationship with at least one parent and ideally two. That is not the whole secret of success, but it is a big, big part of it.”

From How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough