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Is Your Kid Stubborn? New Study Has Good News

Does your kid's tendency to be stubborn and studious drive you crazy? New research shows it will probably help him succeed at work and in life. Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker, explains more.

By
Lisa B. Marshall,
March 1, 2016

My eleven year-old twins are much more concerned about their grades and studying than either my husband or I ever were as children. In fact, for the past two years, one of the girls set a goal of maintaining a 100% average in every class. Last year, she was successful and, this year, she's essentially doing the same thing (although if you ask her, her 98% in one class has "ruined" her grades). And by the way, her twin sister, not to be outdone, also is currently maintaining a 100% average across all of her classes. But she admits if it weren't for her sister's obsession with perfect grades, she wouldn't try as hard.  

And I have to admit that it drives me crazy. They work so hard and they are so hard on themselves—they never give themselves a break. In fact, I often tell each one to treat herself as if she was comforting her sister because they are much gentler and supportive of each other than they are of themselves. (And believe me, I am thankful for that!)

But what drives me even crazier is when both of my kids ignore me. And I don't mean when I'm asking them to do chores. They ignore me even when I'm explaining something that I have expertise in. They do it to my husband as well. For example, he'll be explaining an engineering concept to them (mostly in the form of advice when building a robot), and they will draw from their own limited experience and either disagree or just ignore his advice all together. They prefer to stubbornly work it out on their own.  

So you can imagine my relief when I noticed a long-term study (in the journal Developmental Psychology) that offered some hope. The study followed 700 kids from age 9 through age 40. The researchers wanted to know if certain personality traits of the youngsters would predict (be correlated with) professional success.

According to the study, we used to think that socioeconomic factors and cognitive abilities were most important to achieving career success, but it turns out that being successful is more than that. Coming from a socially advantaged family and being smart (having good cognitive resources) is just the start.  

Surprise, surprise, you also need certain personality traits! So when they controlled for economic status and intelligence, it turned out that being a responsible student (well-organized, hard worker, persistent, and thorough) equals higher educational attainment, and that studiousness translated to higher occupational success. 

The most surprising finding was that rule breaking and defiance of parental authority were the best non-cognitive predictors of higher income (after accounting for IQ, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment). The article suggests that, although more research is necessary, perhaps it's because students who are more demanding are more willing to be demanding when negotiating for salaries or raises. But the authors also mention that they "cannot rule out that individuals who are likely or willing to break rules [may] get higher pay for unethical reasons."

So the next time your kids don't listen you to or break the rules—take heart—at least they most likely won't need to be living with you after they graduate from college! 

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business

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