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2 things I will teach my future kids

Ramit Sethi

I have very strong views on parenting. I know, I know…this is exactly what people want to hear from a non-parent.

And yet — IDGAF!

I’m not ashamed to say my parents did an awesome job raising us. And I had the unique perspective of being raised with Indian values in American culture.

From talking to millions of people who want to change their lives, I’ve started to think about how I’ll apply these insights to parenting one day.

Here are 2 things I will teach my future kids:

1. PERSEVERANCE: HOW TO FOLLOW THROUGH

This is one of the TOP 5 PROBLEMS that people email me about. It’s unreal how many people just simply don’t follow through on anything they start. And they know it and hate themselves for it.

I have people who email me, telling me how tired they are of starting something and never following through. In the VERY SAME EMAIL, they pledge to “finally get it together” so I challenge them with a very small action step and tell them to email me back in exactly 3 days.

I never hear from them again.

I’ve spoken with thousands of these people. When they actually reply, the patterns are identical:

  • They were smart as kids. They didn’t try very hard at school and still did well
  • Parents complimented them for how smart/great they were
  • Once they encountered real challenges (typically, college-level academics and the lack of structure of the real world), they began to fail
  • Having never failed before and built coping skills, they panicked, got stuck, and here they are

You can find their stories here: How Do I Stop Being So Damn Lazy? (Tweet This)

These people explained that they used to love how much “freedom” their parents gave them, but they now wish their parents had pushed them and forced them to learn the skill of discipline.

This is why I laugh when people tell me “all I want for my kids is for them to be happy.” Kids get happy eating 5 bags of Skittles. That doesn’t mean you feed it to them.

2. HEALTHY FOOD HABITS

When I talked to people about their eating habits, a shockingly high number told me that each meal is “like fighting with a demon” (real words from a reader).

They crave sugar, chips, or sweets. Sitting down to eat is like fighting a battle every day…for their entire lives.

In my experience, if you don’t get this right from early on, you are in for a lifetime of tough challenges.

And when you try to have one person stand up to an entire food-industrial complex that’s engineered to get you addicted to food, it’s no surprise that the majority of Americans are overweight. It’s also no surprise that we have poor energy, sleep badly, and (to my earlier point about building the skill of discipline), we look for quick fixes.

It’s even more frustrating that people are now using words like “genetics” and “metabolism” to justify their poor eating habits.

The amazing thing is, if you create good food habits from early on, all of this simply vanishes. There was an absolutely incredible post called “Thin women, how much effort do you put in to stay at that weight?”

Read the comments and notice that the people who are thin don’t see it as “effort” (automatic habits) while others see it as an incredible battle.

I always want to know what other people — like psychologists, doctors, professors, and CEOs — will teach their kids. So these are two of mine. You can agree or disagree, but I thought it would be interesting to share.

Let me know what you’re planning to teach your future kids one day. Go leave a comment below. I’m curious.

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179 Comments

 
  1. Ryan Stephens

    My wife and I are due with our first on July 11th so this something I’ve been thinking about:

    1.) GRIT/PERSEVERANCE – Like you, this is probably #1 for me. This starts with praising effort over ability/intelligence. If my kid truly works as hard as possible and doesn’t succeed he’ll be praised for his effort and then we’ll talk about strategies for working smarter or employing a better strategy next time. Teaching that failure is okay as long as he’s improving. A lot of this boils down to leveraging the growth mindset (vs. fixed mindset).

    2.) CURIOSITY – Explore often.

    3.) PLAY/EXERCISE – We’re going to play a lot — especially if your stupid school gets rid of recess so you can prepare for the standard test.

    4.) AUTONOMY – Mom and Dad are here to help, but you can make your own decisions too. Learn to play by yourself.

    5.) FAMILY DINNER – We’re doing it. A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.

    6.) FRIENDS – Let’s find you some good ones. They’ll have more influence on you than your parents will.

    7.) SLEEP – This important. Your Dad never did it. In fact, he convinced some of his teachers he was narcoleptic so they’d leave him alone when he fell asleep in class. Do as I say and not as I did.

    8.) MANNERS – We’re going to learn them. You’re going to say “please,” “thank you,” “yes sir,” and “yes ma’am.” You’re going to look people in the eye and have a firm handshake. You’re going to open doors for women. If they’re annoyed by this and give you a feminist spiel you’ll feel a visceral reaction and know this is not the kind of woman you’d ever bring home to us.

    9.) SELF-DISCIPLINE – You better pass the marshmallow test, kid.

    • Raj

      its a boy then?

    • Eric

      Not much longer!

    • Arkamitra Roy

      You have got some great points there, but I am curious as to what’s so viscerally wrong with a woman who doesn’t expect her doors held open for her? Sure, it’s a good thing to teach your child to do it for others, but if a certain woman doesn’t expect/need privilege, she’s automatically not a satisfactory life partner????

    • Chris

      Great comments except one.

      Open the door for women? Nice touch but cmon. Why not open the door for others. Women deserve no more respect for men and vise versa.

    • Rachel

      Congrats on your new little one! I think number 8 is wonderful. Courtesy, both in giving and receiving, demonstrates one’s character. Not to mention makes life more pleasant. My husband and I both hold the door for other people; male or female. I thank anyone who holds the door for me.It’s not much effort but does require a little awareness, and I’ve never regretted it. Good luck with number 7!

  2. Prasanna

    I read this somewhere about parenting and I think it is a very valuable piece of advise. When your kids win or face a success, Do not compliment your children with phrases / language: ‘Oh you are so smart’ . Instead use this” ‘ Wow , great that you have put in so much effort’ . I like the subtle explanation…smartness does not have a handle . Effort has. when the same kid faces more challenges and faces a loss or defeat …he can do nothing with ‘smartness’ but if he has been brought up with compliment for his/her efforts…he knows he has to change his effort. This piece of advise almost brought tears to my eyes as I could identify my own self talk about my smartness. I made corrective actions and just changed my effort and got amazing result ( recently cleared CCIE – highest level certification in computer network by Cisco).

    • John

      Carol Dweck writes about this in her book Mindset.

    • Kelly

      Some food for thought:
      The Stanford professor who pioneered praising kids for effort says we’ve totally missed the point
      http://qz.com/587811/stanford-professor-who-pioneered-praising-effort-sees-false-praise-everywhere/

  3. Cy

    Hey Ramit,

    You’re pretty brave for posting this one, can’t wait to see some of the responses! That being said, I can tell you from my perspective of being dad of a 3 year old and a 1 year old, perseverance and good food habits are 2 of my biggest worries about my kids and are key issues I’m always focused on. So the good news is that the 2 issues you’ve selected are right on point as being critical ones that have massive cascading effects on the kid’s success in life. The bad news is enforcing those 2 issues is SUPER HARD. The best advice I can offer is to lead by example. You can’t force your kids into developing grit or eating kale chips. A 3 year old would rather watch the whole world burn than give up their autonomy and actually do what you asked them to do. Rather, you’ve got to let them want to be just like mom and dad, who are actually eating the kale chips. Much like the oxygen mask on the airplane, you’ve got to help yourself first so that you can in turn help others.

    • Alicia

      Agree 100%…. I have a 6 year old. The first 5 years were a complete blurr. I survived, and now have had many opportunities to demonstrate my core values to my daughter. It does get easier!! Thank god.

    • Laura

      As a parent of a 5 and 7 year old, I agree with this one 100%. If your kids see you doing burpees, eating salad, and setting and working to achieve your goals, they will copy your example.

      I would also recommend to those without kids that the time to build those habits and systems is NOW, before you have kids. The Navy SEALS say you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. If you get your habits and systems built before the kids arrive, it will be easier to stay on target when there are new members of your household.

    • Kelly

      For establishing good eating habits I would absolutely recommend the book “It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating” by Dina Rose. She focuses on the habits side instead of the number of nutrients. This focus lets kids feel like they are in control (within limits) while the parents get what they want without the battle.

    • Andrew

      I am not a parent but I have spent a lot of time with nieces and nephews of many ages. I’d echo Ramit’s comments from watching them and my own experience growing up. The tug-of-war around food and sticking with things is a big one.

      A fascinating and thought-provoking read is “French Children Don’t Throw Food”. Pamela Druckerman is NY expat raising 3 children in Paris with her English husband, and wondering how/why they do it so differently (and in many ways, better.)

      Lots of food for thought but big insight is that the idea of ‘discipline’ (punishment for bad behavior) is replaced by ‘education’ (something parent do constantly to shape what their culture sees as a tiny, unformed adult.)

      “It turns out to be a different kind of parent, you don’t just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.”

  4. Katie @ momhabits.com

    I’m a mom to an awesome 16 month old little girl. I agree with your two traits, Ramit, but I think there’s something even more important:

    How to feel your feelings.

    So much of the nonproductive, problematic behavior that we adopt in our lives, whether it’s overeating, overdrinking, drugs, overconsumption of social media, overuse of our smartphones, Netflix binges, too many video games…I could go on and on and on…these destructive behaviors come from a desire to escape our uncomfortable emotions.

    I want my daughter to know that feelings are just feelings, and she can sit with them and they will change, no distracting or numbing behavior required. Being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable (in my opinion) is the best superpower any parent can pass on to their children.

    • Cat

      Yes, and once you’ve sat with those feelings and can articulate them, it’s also important to be unafraid to express what makes you uncomfortable and advocate to protect your own emotional well-being. Especially for girls.

      Sticking with it, owning feelings (recognizing, accepting and speaking up for them), and physical health (nutrition and activity) are my top three.

    • Kelly

      Yes, this. My little guy doesn’t talk yet but I absolutely want to teach him how to label his feelings. Supposedly this helps with reducing their intensity.

      Plus model mindful behavior. There is a blog a friend turned me onto a blog that advocates for “Peaceful Parenting” http://www.ahaparenting.com/. I don’t want to be a peaceful parent, but I do want to be a non-reactive one. I want my kids to know that they will not be punished more on a “bad” day. I like the approach put forward on the blog. A lot of it focuses on not passing your own issues onto your kids, hahaha.

    • Arkamitra Roy

      Katie, what you just said there, should be taught to grownups as well… that feelings are transient in nature, that you WILL get past it. Thank you for this very timely reminder.

  5. John

    I’ll teach them the controversial “iifym” aka flexible dieting which is what my website is all about (fitness and also education btw).
    Pensandredcups.com

  6. Lauren

    How to meditate and bring mindfulness practices into everyday activities.

  7. Tom

    Hi Ramit, while I agree with much of what you wrote, I disagree with your statement “Kids get happy eating 5 bags of Skittles. That doesn’t mean you feed it to them”…..if thats what happiness is to you – getting what you want, then surely you are part of the same externalised rat race who puts “happiness” on gaining external or material things. Too many people whom I know, in their late 30’s or 40’s start to realise “is this it?’ – after getting the degree, job, car, mortgage, kids, and club membership – many to quit their job, look at starting a new course, career, relationship, lifestyle or life! So no, feed a kid with skittles WILL NOT MAKE them happy – it will feed their distraction, attention as well as lots of other harmful affects from ingredients, etc. Feed a kid with time and love and they will be happy – and have resilience.I wish THAT kind of happiness for my kids. Maybe you wont read this, but I felt I had to comment on your misjudged statment!

  8. Danielle

    I want to teach my kids to follow their dreams and don’t get discouraged when the world tells them it work out and a bad idea. If it’s something they want to pursue them go for it in full throttle and f&@k what everyone else says.

    It’s what I’m doing now and it’s starting to work out for me. .y confidence is building back up and I’m not as scared to do the things I’m interested in. It’s a wonderful feeling and I love it!

  9. Nadia

    I hated going to piano class when I was a kid and I hated chemistry. It didn’t matter that I didn’t like them. I had no choice but to struggle through. Eventually, when I developed a competence and became better at playing piano and reading music, and I grew to like it. Once I began to see patterns in chemistry and understood the chemical reactions, I fell in love with it.

    If I was planning to have kids I would want to teach them that liking to do something is usually developed, it doesn’t come automatically. Developing a deep liking (or deep dislike) for doing something, you have to struggle through it until you get better or understand it.

    I see young people struggling with what career they want. Everyone tells them to do what makes them happy, yet they haven’t developed an expertise in anything to find that kind of happiness. Why didn’t they? Because they first time they tried it, it didn’t make them happy. So the cycle goes on…

  10. Ahmadou Nimaga

    To make it simple and short, i will focus on the following: kindness, respect, patience, resilience, grit and spirituality.

    In my humble opinion, these 4 qualities can get anyone through life and give them the necessary detachment in any situation.

    Ps: Ramith, you are awesome. I wish you all the best i humanely can.

    • Ahmadou Nimaga

      I meant ‘Ramit’, sorry.

      To make up for the spelling mistake, you are double awesome 🙂

    • Breezy

      Independence!

      Expect them to do all the amazing things those little geniuses can do and encourage the hell out of them until they do!

      “Why not an A?”

      Taking care of yourself is possibly the most important thing to do everyday of your life so teach it! It’s hard to be alive if you don’t know your own body, can’t care for yourself or regulate your own emotions.

      I’m a mother of 3 with 4 due in Aug.

  11. Valerie

    My kids are grown. My biggest mistake: they didn’t want for anything, and as a result, don’t seem to be passionate or motivated in life. They’ve been given the tools.

    BTW, I was raised eating well. Balanced meals, very few sweets. Rarely at fast food (like most people my age). Obesity wasn’t a problem back then, yet most middle aged folks are overweight. Was not heavy as a kid. Lifestyle and later changes, choices… and I have been battling obesity for a decade now. (time to raise the standing desk up)

  12. Tim Swearingen

    I am a parent of 5 kids. Ages 26 – 9. The last one we adopted out of foster care.

    What we have taught and will continue:

    1. Respect & Honor – starts with respecting God, adults, others and yourself
    2. Service – others before myself
    3. Work before play ( but play hard and often )

    What we encourage:
    1. Freedom of thought & speech ( within the boundaries of respect )
    2. Freedom of searching out what interests them

  13. Rowan

    1) Coded messages in syntax — in other words, good copywriting and how not to be fooled by most advertisement. Also a fun party trick when dealing with asinine statements such as “I always floss.” Always? Given that your mouth has been constantly open for the past five minutes, you obviously hide the string really well when speaking.

    2) Languages — I am a native English speaker but speak French fluently and I’m terrified that I’ll get lazy and not pass this on to the kid, although for balancing cost and reliability of education it might well end up in the Baccalaureat system.

    3) Disciplined practice and how to analyze failure appropriately — music, art, etc. only get better through creating a lot of crap, analyzing why it’s a bit more crap than it could potentially be, and doing better the next time. Plus when a kid learns to find practice somewhere between “just something I do” and “fun” — usually from understanding the big picture of setting and achieving reasonable goals — the practice time as a child stacks up to make a pretty competent adult musician. If only I’d played an instrument I liked as a child I’d be way ahead today.

  14. Nathaniel Wyckoff

    We teach our kids not to be addicted to digital technology. It’s just as addictive as junk food. We don’t own or watch television, limit and control our kids’ Internet access, and provide numerous healthy alternatives (baseball, gymnastics, reading, puzzle games, volunteer work, etc.). We don’t have to have the latest device. We role model experiencing the actual world around us, and interacting with it, rather than spending all of one’s life in front of a screen.

  15. Candace

    Great article to get a lot of comments! lol Even I have to jump in. Yes, I love it. So perfect. I wish it could happen just how we want! Some kids are easier than others.

    I know that I wasn’t taught to finish anything and my mom comforted us with donuts and soda. However, I still eat healthy now. I had to learn it on my own out of my own desire to do so.

    I was actually DISCOURAGED from doing anything with my life. My mom needed my help. If I worked or went to college, well that would make it hard for me to help her. But I did it anyway. And chronic life stress has taken it’s toll on my health, but I do keep fighting to stay healthy. So I basically did the opposite of what I was taught/trained to do.

    My own kids are a bit different from typical kids, because they don’t come from healthy pregnancies and great gene pools. All 4 are adopted from foster care. They all had premature births, drug exposure, surgeries, early childhood trauma.

    This lead to sensory issues, emotional trouble, etc. I can’t parent them like most people parent their kids. It just doesn’t work and only adds to their issues. We have had to learn a TON just to keep them functioning in a typical fashion. They are sweet and well behaved – most people prefer them to their own kids. haha But there are definite triggers that can cause a cascade of confusing behaviors and events. Those could be lifelong problems.

    They ate fabulously until they got to be school aged. Yes, junk food is intended to addict people and it works better on kids than on anyone. So what do you do? Well, I took mine out of school so I could be more in control of what they eat. Take a kid with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, emotional trauma, and add that he has already had to experience drug withdrawal, and you have a recipe for easy future addictions.

    So it’s not all so cut and dry. I know you know that. We talk about everything with our kids. I limit what they are exposed to at home, and try to help them learn to make the best choices for themselves when they aren’t home. But kids are people and no one likes to be controlled. We have to do things differently with each of our kids to get the best results for them. They are all unique and if you have more than one, you are almost guaranteed to get one that will make you rethink your entire existence. LOL!

  16. anogane

    By God’s grace, I want to pass unto my children
    1.knowing God
    2. Serving /od all their lives

  17. Dan

    Effort over inherent talent. I am one of those in your e-mail and have found it hard to really grow out of that, although by focusing on one thing at a time, like exercise, I’ve made some progress.

    I’d show my kids that they can accomplish things through diligent effort and working through the mental blocks. I thought I was really smart until I went to a high-level private university with a bunch of people who worked harder and smarter than I did. There was nothing lacking in my mental machinery, but I was lacking in effort and persistence. I’ll do all I can to teach my kids that the reward is in the doing and in the working, and not in the praise and the accolades. Who cares if you’re super smart? Better to be maniacally disciplined.

  18. Amanda B.

    Here are two things I want to teach my kids (I have a four year old, a two year old, and one on the way)
    1) be kind to others- accept people’s differences and appreciate them and see what you can learn from them
    2) confidence- make your own decisions and be independent!

  19. Bunny

    I have already raised my two boys. Looking back there are things I wish I had done better and somethings I did better than others.

    1. If they tried something (like baseball) and hated it, I didn’t make them keep doing it, unless they were on a team that relied on them. I wanted them to explore everything. Consequently my oldest can build a house from top to bottom, including clearing the land with heavy equipment. Do the plumbing and electrical and all the finish work including building beautiful kitchen cabinets. He can also rescue your ass off a cliff in the wilderness or teach you how to scuba dive.

    2. Know that they are loved no matter what. Because some of your kids will do really stupid stuff.

    3. Let them fail. Be the safety net but don’t let them know that right away. Let them take chances and help them figure out a way to get out of problems when they come up.

    4. The food thing is so important. I failed at that and now my oldest lives on fast food because he is so busy and is on the road all the time.

    5. Deal with the video game issue early on. It isn’t real life. Call of duty isn’t real. You join the marines… Your going to hate your life. That’s what my youngest learned. When he played those games he thought joining the military, he would be a warrior. So not true. It’s ok to play…just get real.

    And no matter how much you try, they will always come back as adults and say….wish you had made me do better at …. Or forced me to do….

    My ex and I both look at our kids and both agree they turned out to be amazing people.
    By the way, my ex is transgendered and they accept him too. So teach your kids to accept people they way they are.

  20. Esther

    1. Delayed gratification- I believe this is very much related to discipline.
    2. Financial IQ- I think kids can learn this from as young as kindergarten. I didn’t learn how to handle my money and make it work for me- I’m still learning. I would want my kids to be financially savvy; I see so many kids who go from college to the workplace who have no idea how to handle their money.
    Thanks Ramit for being awesome…I especially love what you teach about being specific in choosing a niche for our own products/services.

  21. Jill

    I have a 20 year old and a 12 year old, both female. I’ve taught them both to be independent—they learned very early how to wash their own laundry, cook (taught the fractions at age 6 by cooking), clean, basic household repair plus work around the ranch (chores, driving the tractor, etc). My philosophy is “I’m not following you to college & you’ve gotta eat and have clean clothes!” This has also helped with independent thinking.
    Probably the most important thing I’ve instilled is ‘Doing the right thing is usually hard’, in other words, don’t take the easy way.
    Lastly, in conjunction with being independent, a man is not a financial plan.

  22. Bronwyn

    Love both of your points as a parent of a 9 year old and 6 year old.
    I’d add –
    1. the self isn’t fixed. The amount of people I come across who are so determined that their habits, labels and identifying traits are ‘just who I am’. Who says?
    This idea of who you are supposed to be gets in the way of what you can be and may even want to be all the time. Don’t over-identify with stuff that can change to suit you.
    I try to teach my kids to be open – something new could come along to add more to them.
    There’s something at our core that doesn’t really change, but our habits, likes, dislikes and beliefs could easily. Our actual self just gets reinvented each time.
    2 – You probably don’t have all of the information.
    This is a version of that old saying ‘until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes…’
    Everyone has their view. Including you. There can be so many ‘right’ views. They are all right in their way, with the filter and perspective of that person. So much could go better in the world if we allow that other people can hold a different view at the same time as our own, and they can both be valid. What is the truth? There is only ‘true for the person’. So often we judge without knowing all of the information.

  23. Mike

    Ramit, why do you think parents don’t like hearing advice from non-parents?

  24. Malia

    *laughs* I rather like this article, -^,..,^- it brings back memories of what I learned as a kid from my parents and my cat (one can learn a surprising many things from watching an animal).

    What I would love to teach my future kids is…

    1. First and foremost, teach them how to teach themselves through quiet observation and application. I was taught this very early on (age 4) and it has done wonders for my life. Even if I thought I was behind everyone else, I ended up coming out fairly high up top due to learning through others; and so believe it is one of many vital lessons.

    2. Responsibility; whether it be being responsible by taking care of their things, their toys, or taking responsibility for their actions. This is another thing I learned at an early age, I learned the lesson of taking responsibility for my actions and being honest in kindergarten, and learned how to do household chores by 7. Learning responsibility so early on kept me from getting into trouble later on, as well as identify trouble makers, and have strong moral values.

    3. Honesty. This goes hand in hand with responsibility. One cannot be responsible without being honest, or vice versa; and it was part of the lesson I learned in kindergarten. It has allowed me to cut toxic people out of my life and live a better one than most complain of having. I want my future children to have a good, happy life they can live with, even if they aren’t as ambitious as I am.

  25. Arielle

    I loved this email today! Especially because it’s coming on the heels of my own daughter being labeled a “creative genius” in school, but still struggling because of all the other characteristics of creative geniuses: lack of focus, determined to get her creative direction heard, unable to work well in groups.

    Being an introvert myself- a constant INTJ/INFJ scorer, with a child that is soooo extroverted and especially one who is such an avid visual learner can be difficult. So the one thing that I am teaching her right now- is how to fly. Yes I know, it sounds so cliche right?

    But, it’s true. I am teaching her how to fly- more important, how to soar in the face of adversity.

    I think as parents, we worry so much about how well our children are eating, or how well he or she follows the set path we want for them, or even how much they fit in to what society and their schools want for them- we forget to see our children for who they are. Not mindless robots bending to our will, but individual stars – each born to bring this world a new view and heightened consciousness.

    When we try to fit our children in round holes or square pegs- we forget to show them the world that exists outside of useless idioms used to keep us in check. We forget to show them the world that cannot exist on pen and paper. So my lesson, for my children- will be to show them how to fly even when everyone around them, including me, tells them that it’s impossible.

  26. Carolyn Budai

    I agree with both your points. I would add compassion and a connection with the natural world. Vital for survival? no. Vital for a wonderful world, a deep gratitude for where you are at in life, and vital for a better future for the planet, absolutley.

  27. Manda Aufochs Gillespie aka thegreenmama.com

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. 100% agree. Which is particularly meaningful since I think about this issue a lot since I write as The Green Mama and my business is helping grow healthier families. My values are:
    1. Seek Truth (because if we aren’t going to begin to ask WHY and How when we have kids, will we ever). 2. Get Empowered (parents represent a multi billion dollar buying industry, much of that focused on someone else telling people that they need something or someone else to solve their problems. Our great-great grandmas knew a lot less than we do, but they didn’t hesitate to be the boss of the kids. They didn’t quibble with what was to be eaten at the dinner table or have the luxury to run to the doctor for every bellyache. This is where I’d put the food bit! It starts early and it can be hard work but parents can shape their kids eating habits almost 99%, though their inclinations may vary greatly.)
    3. Ask (Better) Questions. Experts ask questions. Who is better equipped to become the expert on your family than you?
    4. Matter more to your kids than their peers. This comes from the work of Gordon Neufeld and, once again, it stems from #2. I often see that immigrant families are way better at this than most North American families.
    5. Fake it until you make it. Brain science shows us the powerful ability to believe what we do. And new parents grow new brain. That’s right! We are prewired to go through a huge habit-changing period when we become parents. It’s a great time to be somewhat thoughtful about the parents we WANT to be and to be it.

  28. Martin White

    Hey Ramit
    Although you can’t teach curiosity, you can and must foster and encourage it. Just as the body needs exercise, so too does the mind. Even at a young age kids can either learn to accept what they are told of they can develop questioning and challenging skills that lead to deeper understanding and occasionally innovative and novel insights. My advice to any (prospective) parent is that no matter how tiresome it seems never stifle the ‘but why’ question!!!

  29. Lindsay

    EATING HABITS for sure. So important. Along with eating habits, I would include living an active lifestyle.

    Another would be to love challenges. Challenges are what make you grow, so I’m teaching my kids to run towards a challenge, not away.

  30. Elinor

    As a mom who is very adamant and ‘drill sergeant’ about instilling good food habits and discipline in my child…I want to wish you the best of luck! It is a HUGE challenge.
    Make sure you surround yourself with like-minded parents and prep the future grandparents about your plans..because once you start taking your kids to playdates OR sending them to daycare OR allowing your parents to watch them …you lose control.

    However, kids are like play-dough. You present them with situations and they live it as if “this is how it should be life”.

    the most important things is to LEAD BY EXAMPLE! you have to practice what you preach!

    For example..my daughter used to SCREAM when I would put vegetables in her plate..cucumbers and peppers..SCREAM!!! but I kept at it…despite the lack of support from my parents..I would eat the same vegetables and same foods I was giving her… and made sure that having a meal together was something important..
    And she eventually got used to it…today, she asks for cucumbers and peppers with her food – or if there are a bunch of foods on the table, she automatically goes to the veggies first.

    the thing with discipline is that when your kids get used to the routine (because kids really love routines), they can get really crazy if something happens and takes them out of this discipline routine…

    so, i think it is equally important to teach them that although there is a routine, in life things happen and you have to be flexible..

    Also I teach my daughter:
    – how to be in touch with her feelings
    – how to communicate her feelings
    – how to be assertive with her needs
    – how to meditate and do yoga in order to connect mind, body, breath.

    Good Luck!!

  31. Ashley

    Great question! Here are my thoughts:

    1. Growth mindset- I love Carol Dweks book, and I think teaching children that they can grow and their aborted aren’t fixed is crucial.

    2. Kindness and inclusion of everyone – my kid is super outgoing. I want him to be the one to invite the new kid to sit with him and his friends at lunch, or get to know that kid that everyone else picks on.

    3. How to have just one – this is the hard part of teaching kids healthy habits in my view. We already cook and serve healthy food, but of course there are always treats in our environment: birthday cake, special occasion foods, grandmas who spoil kids. I want my child to be ok with eating just one even when he might want more initially. This is a lot more realistic in my view than never eat such and such. And it applies to a lot of things: just one hour of screen time, just one TV show… Etc. it’s about moderation in my view.

    • Ashley

      Um…bad autocorrect. Aborted=abilities.

  32. Paul Laband

    Hi Ramit,

    I know you are expecting criticism for writing an opinion on parenting before you have kids on your own, but it is refreshing to see someone thinking about what’s important to teach children BEFORE actually having them. Because, as so many of the young parents here have noted, once you have children then you are constantly trying just to keep your head above water. If you don’t have your goals and values locked in beforehand, all your kids learn is how to be sleep-deprived and stressed. Because that’s what you will be as a parent.
    I am a single father of a wonderful 14 year old daughter who lives with me full time and I have raised her almost completely by myself. I recently moved from Maine to the north Bay Area to be near family, and that has been the single best thing I have done for my daughter. She is thriving here, and being exposed to cultural diversity and vibrant communities.
    To all the great comments so far, I would only add two things. Your kids don’t listen to very much that you say, but they pay very close attention to everything you do. So the most important part of being a parent is modeling the kind of behavior and attitudes that you want to impart.
    The other aspect of parenting that is important is in creating a setting for your children that will challenge them and provide opportunities for growth. I did this by moving my daughter from Maine to California.

    That’s probably already too long of a post to get people’s attention. But there it is.

    Next, if you can help me figure out how to take your work, and the work of people like Tim Ferriss and Daniel Kahneman and combine it all together to fix the broken primary care system, that would be great!

  33. Dominic

    Hello all,

    I am 28 and not planning on having kids for some time. When I do though, I want them to grow up unafraid; for them to be confident and willing to try, fail, and bounce back.

  34. Michael V Thanh

    Hey Ramit,

    Thanks for posting this. I love your stuff because you just tell it like it is. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would teach my kids that “being human” isn’t a sufficient excuse for anything.

    What frustrates me most about many people is they use “humans are imperfect” as an excuse to not improve themselves, to put off seeking greater heights, or to not fix a problem.

    “Oh, well I’m only human.” Yeah? Your personal trainer, fit and ripped, is human. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates are human. Isaac friggin’ Newton was human. So what’s your point?

  35. Em

    1) Smile and be positive. Your friends don’t care (about your problems) and your enemies will be glad. This is one of the most important lessons I learned growing up.
    2) Stick to it. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth staying on the journey. If something’s not working, try something different. If necessary, experiment to find out what works.

  36. Drew Foster

    1. Continuous Learning – Just because a teacher gives you a syllabus, that doesn’t mean that is all you need to know. In addition, a particular subject or concept may not make sense in the first few attempts. I totally agree with your remark on perseverance.

    2. Unfairness – the world is not set up to be fair. I don’t want my children to intentionally take from people. However, they should not openly give under the premise of fairness. The should give, not to be fair, but because their heart compels them to go beyond.

    3. Pride – I want my kids to know that their pride should valuable. I don’t have a problem telling my son or daughter their aren’t doing good, or they did their best. Telling kids when they lose that they “did their best”, is also admitting to them that the other kid/s that advanced ahead of them, are in fact, better than them.

    4. Morals – In a world that tempts them in every corner, they need morals to keep them grounded. Morality is best taught by the parents practicing it. Set an example and actively teach your children, right from wrong. Also, have the courage to realize that your children will form their own morality. However, I truly believe it’s better if you, (assuming your a decent parent) set that morality, that commercials, TV shows, and peers.

  37. Stacey W.

    I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old, parenting is hard. There’s all the things it’s important to teach them (good eating, follow through, manners), there are all the things you never planned on due to personality issues. Example: my son is like me and has social issues. Nobody ever taught me how to not be socially awkward, so I had to work HARD in my 20s to build a toolbox for myself so I could get through, well, life. I noticed early on that my son had the same personality traits as I do, so I’ve been working with him a lot over the years so he won’t have to go through what I did. It’s ridiculous how much better off he is than I was at the same age.
    And my daughter with food, ugh. She has sensory issues, and is TERRIFIED of new foods. After much occupational therapy, we are now (at age 5!) finally able to get her to try new foods without fear and eventually incorporate them into her regular eating routines. This has been an insanely tough journey for the whole family, and we still have a long way to go, but she’s come a long way in the last year and that’s something to be celebrated.
    Kids are LOTS of work.

  38. Julie

    My kids are probably going to hate me until they turn 23 and realize they are better at adulting than their friends. I think it is important that I teach them (in no particular order):

    — how to be a gracious loser and learn from your mistakes. If I beat them in a game of tic-tac-toe, checkers, or chess, they should say “good game” and see where I was able to win. Then they can apply the new game strategies the next time we play.

    — how to set a large goal and break it down into manageable chunks, and then schedule those smaller tasks to accomplish the larger goal.

    — how to manage their money. Saving/ investing isn’t an option, it is a given from day 1.

    — how to make a commitment and see it through. Did they get signed up for ballet classes and want to quit after the first class? Too bad, you made a commitment to the class and you will see it through to the end of the term– and you will pretend to be happy while you are there.

    — how to learn from everyone and everything. Read a stupid article? Now you know how not to write! Is your friend better at math than you are? Study together and learn their strategies!

    — how to be generous. Is your friend struggling with science? offer to help them study and teach them your strategies. Read a great article that you think someone else might like? share it with them!

    — how to hold an in-person conversation. Too many people are so tied to their electronics that the art of speaking to someone or a group of people is getting lost.

  39. Keeley T

    So Ramit, you wanted to know what a psychologist would teach their kids. I’m a psychotherapist in NYC.

    Interesting timing of this post… I’m getting married next month and Future Husband and I were discussing this last night. I’m just leaving a list, rather than writing a long paragraph that everyone will likely skim through.

    1) Value your body and your physical health. Go to the doctor as needed– if something feels wrong, don’t wait. Just go.
    2) Eat as many vegan and vegetarian meals as possible. Junk food is meant to be a treat, not eaten daily. Whereas we’ve agreed to not force a particular lifestyle on a child, we would want it to have healthy eating habits, but also that they don’t need to conform to the American norm of eating wayyyyyy to much meat in a given week. We’d also educate it on NIDDM, as Type 2 runs in my family, and I watched family members lose limbs secondary to gangrene, lose their sight due secondary to diabetic retinopathy, and be in constant pain from neuropathy. They didn’t take care of themselves. My kid will be highly encouraged to employ good self-care.
    3) Respect is not treating someone else how you would like to be treated. Respect is treating others the way THEY want to be treated.
    4) Not everything is worth the effort of enduring a ton of stress, anxiety, and elevated blood pressure. Not everything needs to be argued over passionately with yelling and screaming and harsh words. I’d encourage the kid to really create a system of values that works for them, and I think it would help them to better choose what to get worked up about. As my dad often says, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

    • ENGONWI EMILIA

      Hi KEELEY,
      Point 3 is little bit confusing, I am suprised when you say, “respect is not treating someone else how you would like to be treated,respect is treating others the way THEY want to be treated”. I will like you to expand on this for my understanding.

      Thanks

    • Keeley T

      Hi Emilia,

      After replying on your thread, I was finally able to reply here. Point #3 is fairly straight forward. Don’t treat me how you want to be treated, treat me how I want to be treated. If you’re uncertain as to what someone else finds disrespectful, ask them. Ask how they would like to be treated.

  40. ENGONWI EMILIA

    Hi! Ramit, very interesting stuff!
    You said it right! and I appreciate the views of the above commentators.
    We should also teach our kids to be responsible.I mean, they should know that they are held responsible for the decisions they make and learn how to face difficulties and obstacles when it comes to it.

  41. Alex Gitlin

    I don’t have the luxury to be theoretical about the question, because I do have teenage kids. If I had to pick a handful of things that matter the most these will be:

    internal motivation and empathy.

    But teaching is a two way street, and most of it happens when you think no one is looking and no one is listening. The beauty and the horror of having children is not the responsibility. Soon enough you realize that they’ll be just fine even when you’re not around. The beauty and the horror of having children is you eventually get to find out who YOU really are. But the good news is: teaching is a two way street. Even after becoming a parent and accepting a role of a teacher you can change, you can learn, and you can grow up.

  42. Dido

    1. You have to fail to succeed–don’t regard failure as bad, regard it as education and a step on the way to success.
    2. Don’t personalize–when other people criticize you, it’s often not about you, it’s about what is going on in their lives. More generally, I’ll teach them about the Fundamental Attribution Error (without labeling it as such) and conversely, the importance of Empathy and trying to step into the other person’s shoes.
    3. I’d teach them mindfulness meditation skills from early on–how to adopt observer perspective on their own emotions by labeing and detaching from them, without suppressing them.
    4. I’ll teach them that exercise needs to be part of daily hygiene, just like brushing their teeth.

  43. Josh C

    I want my kids to have a motor(son 8,daughter 2)

    My son & I were discussing the idea of 10,000 hours & how it takes hard work to master things yesterday.

    Above all I want my kids to have a motor to get things done/get better at things. My wife & I have been using goal setting with our kids and it has done very well by us.

    I grew up as a free range kid in a messy house and I think it really hurt me in some ways. So my kids have a daily routine in place and have been taught to be organized and tidy from day one.

    I saw someone mention “yes sir/ma’am”, martial arts really helped instill this in my son.

  44. Laura

    That emotional intelligence – i.e. managing self and reactions to/interactions with others well – is as important and potentially more so than academic intelligence. Going to a top college won’t matter much if one can’t interact well with others.

  45. Joy

    I have a toddler and I have already started with the food. She loves fruits and vegetables. I am not only teaching discipline (follow through when I say I am going to do something), but I am going to teach money management and that she and her future siblings should learn a skill and learn how to create streams of income. A job is not the only way to earn money; if you can’t find a job, create one for yourself.

  46. C.

    Please please parents, quit focusing on ‘how smart’ your kids are, and reinforcing something that ultimately means nothing! Sandwiched between two ‘very smart’ siblings, I didn’t excel in anything measurable or seemingly important, and I spent quite a bit of time trying to stay under the radar. In the end, my perseverance and doing it the best way I could led me to working as soon as I was 16, and finding my self esteem and kudos in the work world. Oh I finished college (I’m stubborn, too) but no one in 40 years has asked me what my GPA was, or how I scored on my SAT’s(dismal at best). In the end, my two ‘smart’ siblings one turned out to be full on bipolar, and the other has struggled her entire life as she doesn’t finish anything she starts, and uses her ‘creative’ label as her reason for why she does nothing. My parents exposed us to a lot of great things, art and music, but navigating through life and a good work ethic, well not too sexy, eh? I was a different kind of smart, but not the kind that gets rewarded. Love your blog, Ramit, you strike such a sensible note.

  47. Jana

    As a single mom of three kids (their dad died when they were 7, 6 and 2) I can tell you two game-changing perspectives.
    1. There is a deep character and beautifully compassionate perspective that develops from suffering. Ancient teaching describe it as suffering develops perseverance, perseverance character and character hope. As a parent, it is so tempting to rescue your child from any and every pain, but this is not only an impossible task it will produce undesirable results – as you clearly articulate above. Overcoming and perseverance produce character because there is a point where you don’t know if you’re going to make it. But you do. And you realize you are stronger than you think you are. And that changes everything!
    2. On responsibility: “The Entitlement Trap” book changed my life. It details a strategy to solidify your family identity and from that rock-solid place of trust teach your kids to earn your respect (and their own money) by participating in a family economy. I hope this helps someone out there. Thank you Ramit!

  48. Deena

    Hi, Ramit. I love your goals for your kids and I have every confidence that you will put in the maximum effort to meet those goals.

    I have four kids, ages 18 through 25, and I would like to tell all of you younger people that with all the best intentions, sometimes things don’t go exactly the way you want them to. People are not controllable and we all have free choice.

    Raising kids is not A plus B equals C; it’s more like 1 plus 1 equals pi.

    That being said, even if your kids end up eating skittles and ditching their piano lessons, they will ultimately inculcate your values — especially the unspoken ones. Live your values and let them be reflected in your behavior. That is the greatest lesson you can give your kids.

    And love them unconditionally. Make sure they know they are loved.

    Deena

  49. Jon

    Perseverance is such a great one! Would totally be on the top of my list.

    A close second would be patience. I remember watching a video once about an experiment where kids had to not eat a cookie for 10 minutes and then they were rewarded with another cookie. The kids who were successful in delaying their gratification ended up with higher grades later on in life. The psychologists theorize that delayed gratification is the number 1 predictor of future success. I find this true in my personal life and my professional life. Take your time, do your research, approach the situation at the right time. Too many people jumping in feet first just to crash and burn because they weren’t patient.

  50. Nicole CONCEPCION

    I like those two as habits, yet would add patience and the inner connection with the spiritual self as core behaviors from which other good habits can stem from.

    Our daughter is nine, son is eleven and my experience is, as some have mentioned, is that parenting is the ultimate challenge of being an adult, much of what you want to share is an absolute blur/ put on hold until around age seven when there’s more time. Failure and the room to do so is also super important on both sides- as a parent and child and learning how to own your fault, accept it, apologize, forgive and keep going.

    Remembering that adulthood has developmental phases too and being aware of this while navigating your child’s development is a good way to keep connection and remind your child you are learning too!

  51. Jamie

    I would also say perseverance and healthy eating. I was the “smart kid”, so I know how that doesn’t work. Health wise was a bit in the middle. We weren’t really given much pop or sweets, but we still did get them. We also had that typical meat (usually dry/bland chicken), veg., and mashed potato meal, every night. Despite many frozen/unhealthy meals, I actually eat quite healthfully but I do struggle with baked treats.

    Anywho, I’d also teach humility, open-mindedness, wonder, peacefulness, the ability to reason well and to treat arguments in a philosophical way. I’d teach them independence, social skills, emotional control, the value of a dollar (I.e. allowance would be based on what they give me back), and decisiveness.

  52. JV

    I have and two boys 3 and a half and 15 months. Before I had kids, I wrote a plan on how I was going to parent my them. It’s changed since had kids but here are two things I am teaching my kids.

    Responsibility
    You must take full responsibility for your choices and actions. You do not assign blame or responsibility to anyone else for the choices you make or the actions you take.

    Creativity
    Do not limit or confine their imagination. Make sure they play outside. Expose them to music and the arts. Show them how to come up with multiple solutions to problems, etc.

    But for me the most important element isn’t something you teach , it’s time spent with them. I make a conscious effort to spend a minimum of 4 hours per day with them. I can do that only because I have my own business and work from home. There is no better way for kids to learn than seeing you do the exact things you want to instill in them.

  53. Jules

    I have a three-year-old, and while I agree that perseverance and healthy habits are good lessons for them, it’s also my opinion that you really don’t teach them things, so much as live the lessons you want them to learn. I will buy cookies and and candy for kidlet; but he only gets one at a time, maybe once a day, and then only if he asks politely. Hence, discipline: limits, manners, and moderation, all in a cookie. And dear God: perserverance–that’s not something you have to teach a kid, trust me….

    I always think it’s funny to read these things from childless people who say, “My kid will never [whatever]”, not because they usually end up eating their words, but because I don’t think they really put much thought into *how* they’re going to do it. Long before kidlet threw his first temper tantrum, I knew exactly how I was going to handle it–and I did. Obviously you can’t plan for every contingency, but there are things that *will* happen (your kid will hate broccoli) and if you have a course of action in mind you can just follow it.

    What I want to teach my kid is the ability to say “F*ck it” to what’s expected and follow his own path. It could very well be that his path is the same as 99% of those out there, and if he chooses that then that’s okay. But if it isn’t, then that’s okay, too. He’s got to learn to have expectations for himself–I’ll work out how to get to Point B with him, but he’s got to figure out what Point B is.

  54. Jerry (Jai)

    Surround yourself with people that support you. ‘No’ usually means ‘not yet’ — change your wording and ask again later.

  55. Shelley

    Hey Ramit! That’s great that you’re thinking about this before you have kids. Sometimes I wonder if some parents think at all about what they’re doing. The biggest thing I have learned, so far lol!, is that no matter what you do, they are there own people. You set them up for success the best you can (nurture) but there is the whole nature side which plays a big role. As far as food goes…my mom is a great cook, we rarely if ever had processed foods, but I am a huge foodaholic. Being a chef I love all food, but if I could get away with eating cheese, crackers and wine for every meal I totally would!

  56. Angel T

    1. Multiple failures are a required must for success to happen.
    2. Yoga for body flexibility and meditation for mindfulness.

  57. Paula

    I’ve already had the kid. We adopted her from India. These are two things we taught her:

    1. Don’t judge people by the color of their skin or how good looking they are, you must go by their character. Character is everything.

    2. Give whatever you’re doing your best effort. Some things you’ll be good at, some things you won’t. Concentrate on the things you’re good at and don’t waste too much time trying to improve your weak spots, unless it affects your relationships with people. If it affects your relationships, then you need to work on it.

  58. Sarah

    I have 6 kids. 2 step 4 I have given birth to. My goals have always been sensible eating, exercise as fun and not being fearful or ignorant about finance. My goals have adapted over time. For instance water is the only drink for children but when step children arrive who “don’t like water” you have to adapt. They all drink water now!

    Consistency has always been the key to making anything stick. Habits I guess!

    Re the food issue I have recently discovered that some people are sugar sensitive. I have always known that sugar isn’t great but I have always thought that everything in moderation is OK. I have to reevaluate what ‘moderation’ is for sugar. I never realised the extent to which sugar affects our psychology and our physical health. Most symptoms of later life ailments seem to be connected to sugar consumption. When people talk of only having ‘pure’ sugar this is an anomaly. It’s a chemical that happens to taste really good.

    So sugar is a big one for me. And plenty of good fat which includes beef dripping and lard. This where humans derive their energy from.

    Everything else in life will come so much more easily with food and exercise sorted.

    Finance I choose because my family historically aren’t good with money – and I intend to change that with my generation. I bought all the kids your book Ramit!

  59. Alex Shorts

    Soon after I got married a wise man (university dean of behavioural sciences) told me to create three categories of items I wanted to teach my children one day. They were: Knowledge, Skills and Values. The key item was to then agree upon them with my significant other. Invaluable in creating a road map for our children, but also invaluable to make sure my wife and I were on the same page from the onset. It ensured that we were building the groundwork of a cohesive learning system together and provides a guide we can constantly reference.

    Another wise man juxtaposed the difference between goodness and excellence in the American culture. We hold up pictures of excellence over the pictures of goodness. Think professional sports. Is it not better to want your children to be good people first and then great people second?

    Great reflections Ramit. I look forward to seeing your posts when you become a father.

  60. Sara

    I plan to teach my kids that life is NOT fair!!! Just because someone else got praised/awarded for something doesn’t mean that you should too. Just because another kid got a cool toy doesn’t mean you should too. Furthermore, shit happens. Toys get lost and cookies get dropped and sometimes it isn’t even your fault but I’m not automatically going to get you another. You need to learn how to be sad, mad, etc. and process that and move on without me fixing it all the time for you. I don’t have kids but I plan so we’ll see if I change my tune but for now… yeah like Ramit said. 😉

  61. Michelle

    I am learning two things and I hope I’m modeling this to my kids. *I think food is on the same lines as religion and politics – you can have your ideas and I have mine.

    1. Energy balance – Play/Joy/Rest and Intuitive Eating (for lack of a better term). As a kid through my mid teens, I was fed “healthy” food only. No white carbs, no juice, no soda, low sugar – fruits were “dessert”, organic and homemade as possible. Obviously there were treats at parties or school and that was ok, but we never went to restaurants. I loved going over to friends’ houses and getting to finally eat white bread and fruit rollups and glorious Soda. It was such a big deal since that stuff was so forbidden. I binged BIG TIME once I had freedom in college. It took over a decade of various diets in my journey to find the PERFECT and most healthy way of eating to realize that I was overthinking all of this. (My diet journey included the much-lauded “freeing” IIFYM for almost two years which yes worked to lose weight but killed/numbed my sense of listening to my body and enjoying food). After IIFYM quit being motivating and freeing and turned into a slave driver, AND my kids were hiding and binging food…I quit. I did reverse up to 2800 calories and 400+g carbs but I still couldn’t stop thinking about food and if I was doing it right/wrong and I never felt like I ate enough. I quit after realizing my kids were caught up in it too. After 6 months of an Intuitive Eating/Ellyn Sattler concepts (not all of them) household, my kids sometimes refuse cake at birthday parties. The other night we found a full Hershey bar with ONE square eaten, on the dinner table, and the kids ignored the rest and went to play. My husband and I (who would have fought over that bar while we were dieting IIFYM) laughed and went on with life. I’m not a size 0-2 who just needed breast augmentation to look like a fitness model body anymore, but being able to just go to a restaurant and eat what looks good without timing it to a post workout meal or a weekly cheat meal…ahh, I’ll take my higher BMI 25-26 over that experience. I still give the mental finger to IIFYM and do a happy dance when I put cream in my coffee without even trying to eyeball the portion size. I have normal hormones, need to wear a bra, and have libido again! Why didn’t anyone tell me THOSE side affects of weight loss!? My husband doesn’t miss MFP being my constant companion at the dinner table, and I don’t have to stress about missing gainz if I don’t feel like eating protein at a meal.

    Exercise benefits include: weight loss, health markers (cholesterol, avoid type 2 diabetes, etc), improved mood, improved libido, improved energy, and better sleep. Well, I could deadlift 250 and squat 205 – I injured my shoulder so my BP never got above 120. I did a 2:05 half marathon. I was in decent shape. But I was a CRAB and white knuckled life until I could get in my run or lifting session, I had low resting heart rate, I lost my period for over a year, my hair came out in clumps, I was cold all the time, I was fatigued even with 8-10 hours of sleep, no libido even though I looked “sexy” and fit – the irony!!, and I just pushed through workouts in the gym like a champ. I never missed a workout. I incorporated regular deloads in my programming but my grip strength (indicator of CNS recovery) got worse and worse. I found out that recommended exercise for health benefits is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily, or 1:15 weekly vigorous exercise. That was shocking to me. So I do that only now.

    Also, it wasn’t fun anymore. Another drive for good health ending in perfection driving me and burning out. I walk now and occasionally lift weights. I’m not a fitness competitor, I’m not an athlete. I just want to be holistically healthy and take care of my body. The funny thing is, I get movement cravings. Sometimes with the kids (we go to the playgrounds in the afternoons and I play in the sun instead of watching it while in the squat rack), I have an intense desire to sprint, or jump, or climb. I want to play and enjoy moving my body for the pure fun of it, not to achieve a powerlifting rank or PR. I want my kids to keep their love of play. I encourage whatever activity they want to do – baseball/softball, soccer, etc. I don’t want them to think they have to do bootcamps and endure marathons in order to stay healthy. If those things are play for them, awesome. But they numbed me to my body’s sensations for play and joy. I’m so happy with this change and I love seeing my kids more.

    2. Win-Win – need honesty from yourself and others. Part of this is being able to emotionally label your experience. Kids are told constantly to not feel this way “Don’t be angry, he’s just a baby and he can take your toy – you have to share!” “Don’t be scared, there’s nothing to be scared of!” “Don’t be sad, it’s not a big deal!” CONSTANTLY. Parenting/Teaching/Coaching/Mentoring/Managing are all the same skillset and a big skill is listening and empathy. You can’t have empathy if your kid or direct report can’t feel. So, my kids feel. And it’s HARD for them, even though they are young!!

  62. Ann Albers

    This is a brilliant article and a beautiful question to ponder.

    I will not be a parent this lifetime, but in my work talking to angels I have re-parented many adults.

    If I had kinds, in addition to the practical things listed above, I would teach kids the following…

    1. You are pure and perfect beings, made of nothing less than the Love that creates universes.

    Like the rainbow colors that come through a prism, you are special and unique, and yet you and all others are sourced from the same light. We are all different but equal pieces of the puzzle of humanity.

    2. Nothing you do can disconnect you from this love.

    Sometimes you will feel it, sometimes you won’t but doing your best to stay connected to your Source, whatever you choose to call it, is the most important thing you will accomplish on this earth. (I would teach my children simple mediations and exercises I have used with clients’ children.)

    3. Who you are being is more important than what you are doing.

    Sitting quietly enjoying a loving and peaceful moment is more important than helping others with a sour attitude. Your contributions on this earth are always meaningful, but the love you leave behind, and help others find, is the only thing that is eternal. Being kind is more important than being right.

    4. You have all the wisdom, guidance, and resources you need to live a passionately inspired life.
    (I teach children to tap into their guidance, and within minutes they get .)

    Since you are always connected to the source, you can always tap into it for guidance. When you don’t know something, you will be guided to someone who does. When you don’t have an answer you will receive one exactly when you need it.

    If you use your head to follow guidance, you will be blessed with an inspired, grace-filled life filled with meaning and joy.

    And separate from the question – Bless you Ramit for working in a way that inspires others to live in integrity, authenticity, and with a true desire to serve. Yours is one of the very few “marketing philosophies” that coincides with what the heavens have taught me. I was guided here within days after feeling the desire to get my work out to more people. I am rich in spirit. Everything I want or need comes to me magically when I need it, so money has never been my motivator. However, being able to serve more people in a way that also serves me creates a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving that ultimately benefits us all. Thank you for what you do. May you always be richly blessed, in all ways.

    • Ann

      Excuse the typo! I remain imperfect in my humanity, but perfect in my soul!! 🙂 Grins!

  63. Rebecca Myers

    This is something I’ve thought about a lot, and yet I also have no kids! I think it is essential to build a certain ability to be self-aware and self-compassionate, and to cultivate optimism, resiliency and mental toughness. This of course based on work by Tara Brach, Carol Dweck, Martin Seligman and others. I think the tools and techniques to get there are many and it might depend on the kid’s age and proclivities to find out the best way to approach this. One of the first things is to be aware of our own self-image and self-talk, as well as how it is influenced by others (when we are told we are smart, first we’re proud and happy, and then we dread being found out we’re actually losers and we spiral down into unworthiness and fearful non-creative approaches.)
    This I think aligns with your first goal for your kids, but I am spreading the umbrella a lot wider. Perhaps too BHAG, but there it is.

    Second is learning to cultivate true interest, curiosity, compassion and respect for others. Learn how to be a real human in relationships and at work. This leads to focusing on others, how to be useful to them, how to create value, how to communicate (listen!), etc. This will keep your children from too much self-directed thinking, selfish behavior, stupid mistakes that come from ignorance of situations, chronic loneliness and isolation (these last shown to be a bigger predictor of untimely death than lack of exercise or being obese). They will be more joyful, experience the delight of truly connecting, having meaningful purposeful lives, be more successful, have a stronger social network, and be emotionally and physically healthier.

  64. Alison

    Hi Ramit,

    I do have a four year old. The two main things I am trying to teach him are:
    1. It’s OK to be alone – with yourself, your thoughts. You’ll actually learn more about yourself that way – what you want, what you think, etc. I go to a sensory isolation tank about once a month and it is an incredible experience, but when I tell people about it, they kind of freak out, because they can’t be alone with their thoughts for any amount of time. I want him to be able to put his phone down while he’s waiting for his friends and watch the birds flying by, the people walking by, and to make his own opinions on things. So far, he’s headstrong, so I think I’m doing well.

    2. Courage to do the hard things. The right things. Courage to stand up and say, this isn’t right. I still have work to do in this area, because he’s a little meek in some situations. But courage to stand up for himself, courage to raise his voice when a voice needs to be raised.

  65. Emily McInnes

    So many things to teach my child, this one just happens to be top of mind: money. The act of saving money and giving it away. Not just spending it. Teaching him the self-empowerment of money and how to act responsibly. He’s only 4 and had his first “store” at our garage sale yesterday. He was a great little negotiator, up-selling people on his $1 surprise bags – ha ha. Then, at the end, all his neighbourhood buddies came over and he gave them all piles of quarters.

    My husband and I are thinking of taking him to open his first bank account, teaching him to save 1/2, spend 1/4 and give 1/4 (of this money plus an allowance we’ll start on his 5th b-day) to a charity of his choice at the end of the year.

  66. Mary

    YES! I absolutely agree with you. As one who sailed through childhood only to stumble later in adulthood, I still struggle with follow through.
    As a parent I find it’s harder than ever to instill discipline in children – they don’t have the chores we had and they are chained to their electronic devices (which light up those reward centers much more easily than good old fashioned work). It’s a constant battle.
    Another thing I’m trying to teach my kids is to own their failures. If s*%t hits the fan, what can THEY do to fix it. Blaming others & outside circumstances does nothing to move them forward.

  67. princely

    Bless this far for I am now a parent and what I will like to teach my kids and what I am teaching them now is, life is not about easy ask and easily get. So work hard in school to know how to work hard for a better tomorrow

  68. Mary

    Our boys are 6 years and 3 years old. Our priority is to help develop their character. We emphasize patience, kindness, generosity, honesty, self control, respect, humility.

    So far, we are very pleased with their development. We also focus on discipline, schedule, minimal electronics and lots of adventure.

    Kids look at their parents and copy them- so first of all, we set high standards for ourselves.

  69. Will

    Great post. My wife and I came from very different family dynamics and upbringings which I think will help greatly in our parenting style, as we can see pluses and minuses for each.

    I will try to focus on:
    Curiosity – I want to foster the imagination of my future children and ensure that they are using their brains to solve problems creatively (and not simply googling the answers). Be comfortable with asking why?
    Communication – Learn how to talk about your feelings, your wishes, your needs. Be able to communicate them clearly and effectively as well as learning how to listen and not simply hearing what people say.
    Health – We will play and run and jump and be outside and eat healthy and take care of ourselves, because no one else is going to do it for us.
    Work Ethic/Grit/Perseverance – Failure is ok. Failure is necessary. Be okay with failing, as long as you LEARN from it. I want to teach my children that they are capable of way more than they believe.
    Respect – Be respectful of everyone – especially if you disagree with them. Be able to work out your differences in a proper, constructive manner.
    Personal Finance – They will understand money and the importance of building wealth.

    One skill that I did not receive when I was a child was the knowledge of how to “fix” things. I have since developed this knowledge/skill and it has been so rewarding to see a problem and be able to solve it myself. I will show my child how to do things and try to pique their interest.

  70. Thomas Denny

    1. Nothing is free in life. You get out what you put it.

    2. Success will come from doing the things we all know we should do, but never do.

  71. Angelica

    How to breathe! Mindfully. Eat mindfully. Do chores mindfully. This will teach them to be grounded and to understand how they feel.

  72. Aysenur Akgöz

    I want to teach to my future children the importance of the following:
    1. hygiene: brushing teeth, every day new socks, take shower every day, wash hands after toilet, wash hands before eating, and so on.
    2. the main hobbies: reading and sports
    3. your friends well choose
    4. as long as you live and learn and keep reading and keep studying by training
    5. to be polite
    6. no prejudice and also not be naive
    7. respect all cultural differences and religious differences
    8. sufficient sleep so that your brain and you can physically relax
    9. sufficient work and not procrastinating
    10. the pay bills on time and do not postpone
    11. as much as possible, save for later and for the adventitious circumstances
    12. can dance (especially need to know tango) by dance lessons in dance school
    13. can go horse riding (I want my children love horses and like riding)
    14. able to speak at least 3 world languages fluently (English, French and German)
    15. as long as they live evolve and go along with the technological means of communication (such as Facebook, instagram, Twitter, …)
    16. little watch tv and READ a lot of books
    17. read several books (such as novels, mathematics, statistics, and so on) and not one kind of books
    18. When they are married to their home help woman at the household and not expect everything from her!
    19. and so on

  73. Skye

    I agree with you on perseverance, grit, determination, but I think of it as one component of conscientiousness. I would hammer it into them along with honor, integrity, honesty, generosity, nonviolence, unselfishness, and the importance of contributing to the greater good, not just being focused on yourself. I want to raise the kid who stops to help the hurt puppy on the roadside even if it means missing out on something s/he really wanted.

  74. Connor

    Wow! That list of patterns you gave describes me precisely. I have just finished second year mechanical engineering at 18. I’m getting through, but it’s a struggle for me. I’m grateful that I am a (“proper”) musician, because practicing an hour and a half a day instills some measure of determination and perseverence in someone.

    When I have children, I won’t be quiet about how the world works in terms of economics, politics and social dynamics and how my personal bias affects what I say, but I’ll let them draw their own conclusions. My children will play at least one musical instrument for the neurological and cultural benefits. I will employ my children to do ‘extra’ chores and work that I need done. I will take my children to church until they can drive, at which point they can choose to go if they want.

    Those are the most important things I feel that my parents did for me. Because of these, I am universally liked; I know how to work and how to relax and socialize; I have a great deal of developed talents and intelligence; and I have a solid faith basis.

  75. Philo

    Dear Ramit,
    Excellent points.
    Regarding the second one, HEALTHY FOOD HABITS, this is also applicable to spiritual food, which is connected to the words we speak. The choice of words matters, as much as the food we intake. Our words determine our world. That is the reason why the Book of Matthew tells us: “A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it.”
    Best wishes !
    Philo

  76. Adam

    1) Save a minimum of 10% of your income NO MATTER WHAT.

    2) The concept of compound interest.

    3) Don’t get Diabetes.

  77. Lesley

    I feel like I spoil my 3 year old all the time, but apparently I’m harsher than some other parents…my son has gone to bed without dinner, because if he’s not hungry enough to eat what we’re having, he’s obviously not really hungry. I’m not a catering service for toddlers.
    I give warnings and am swift with the follow through. I make him wait for things he wants, because you can’t have everything you want whenever you want. All in all, I have a sweet little guy, and I lavish him with love and things he enjoys (in moderation) because he’s growing up patient and thankful.

  78. Bob

    I have six kids, and my wife and I have deliberately tried to be clear about what we hope they’ve learned by the time they leave home (whenever that is). Follow-through is important. So, too, is good eating habits. Here are two that are important for us:

    1) Personal Responsibility: Regardless of what anyone else has done, we are constantly pushing them to see what THEY have done. We want them to see that they always have a choice to change their own approach to the situation and thereby their results.

    2) Clarity of Purpose: We’d like them to actually AIM their life like we are aiming our parenting. It makes decisions so much easier. From what I’ve seen, the Cheshire cat got it right. Here’s the quote:

    `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

    `That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

    `I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice.

    `Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

  79. Richard Schaffer

    I have two children. They are as different as night and day when it comes to money and life values.

    My grand daughter graduated last week. Her brother is two years behind. I wrote them a short book (82 pages) that includes what I want them to know. Title, “Notes to my Grandchildren: Ramblings and Family Stories.”

    I suggest that the most important trait in life is the ability to delay gratification. I suggest your book when I talk about money.

    Richard

  80. Tara

    My parents taught me the value of earning….nothing is given. You’ve heard the saying, “don’t give your child what you weren’t given, teach them what you weren’t taught”.
    If my parents would have taught me how to be in control of what I wanted my life to be like. I wouldn’t have taken 30 years to figure it out. I would tell my kids to live their life as it was a movie & they’re the director. “What movie about your life do you want to show the world?” It would empower them.

  81. René

    I think the primary role of parents is to prepare kids to live, survive, and hopefully thrive for when we’re no longer around. Bringing children into this world is a funny thing. People get slammed as being selfish for not having kids when what we’re really doing is bringing a helpless being into the world full of suffering, through no choice of their own. My hope for my own children is that they think critically, understand what’s in their scope of control and what isn’t, that if all else fails, you have agency over your own attitude. To embrace adversity and look at any challenge as an opportunity to grow. To be compassionate and empathetic. To be useful. To take care of themselves and others. To see how we are all connected in a beautifully crazy way. That you have to work for what you want. Have an outlet to express yourself. And whatever you do, wherever you go, to take your passion with you every step of the way.

  82. Carmen

    Everybody is not your friend, you can’t please everybody, people are always observing and judging, people are going to talk crap, it’s better to be independent but, don’t burn bridges because sometimes in life you need favors and help from others.

    Also, don’t have kids.

    Basically, everything my mom taught me.

  83. Eric

    “Everything in life is negotiable.”

    Too many people accept things as told, never questioning their assumptions or counter examples. “You have no coding experience; we won’t hire you.” Or, “This latte costs $2.50 because that’s what lattes cost.”

    But the person with a negotiator mindset realized they may have no coding experience, but they have other skills they can exchange for the proper training within the role. She’ll also be the one to ask for a discount at the coffee shop, just because she can.

    I heard an anecdote once about a Silicon Valley dad who made his kids negotiate with him for things. If they wanted dessert, they had to negotiate. If they wanted to watch extra TV, they had to negotiate. Not in a dumb, cruel way, but in a playful way.

    Gaining the ability to negotiate and understand the psychology of adding and exchanging value has vastly improved my life, so I’ll be passing that one on to the kiddos, no doubt.

  84. Doreen

    Those are very good choices on your part, Ramit, but I just have one thing to add about the “Thin Women” bit: your Indian tradition of Ayurveda teaches three different main doshas, or body-mind types, and the Kapha type does in fact gain weight more quickly and lose it more slowly. That’s not an excuse, but it is helpful to know. Ayurveda, which is a 5000-year-old, full-fledged science also has different protocols for the different body-mind types. I found it very useful when dealing with own more Pitta-oriented problems (Pitta is the medium “fiery” build, known for its focus) – it was able to solve them where allopathic medicine drew a blank.

  85. FDJustin

    Of the top of my head:
    The boons and perils of identity.
    Learning something new that’s hard makes you feel stupid: That’s normal. You don’t hate the subject, you hate feeling stupid- and when you get past that, you grow smarter. (One of those forehead slapping insights, gained from watching Josh Kaufman on TEDx.)
    Political Correcness is a social cancer born of good intentions and angry people.
    Integrity.
    Basic respect.
    A solution oriented mindset.
    How to fight.
    How to fight dirty.
    When to fight.
    First aid.
    Underwater basket weaving.

  86. Abel

    In addition to what you said, I would also teach them:

    1. How to influence in others to do what they want, as long as it is ethical and moral.
    2. Talk to strangers, as they will ALWAYS have, what you want (unlike most parents teach their kids to never talk to strangers).

  87. JC

    I will teach my kids how to carry the legacy I am preparing for them.

    Some highlights would include that: whatever boost they get from mee in life saves them about three times the expense for them (interest, mistakes etc)

    I will also teach them that my desire is to have all my grandkids to have more opportunities, better quality and a fuller life that I had.

  88. Rachel

    Practice not giving a crap what other people think, and practice being empathetic and generous. It’s really a balance. My daughter is 2 now, and these are what jump out as the most important for her development these days. And probably pretty high up there with my own development too…we teach what we most need to learn.

  89. Michael

    Ramit, I really connected with what you wrote about panicking and becoming stuck after college due to the unstructuredness of the real world. What more have you learned about ways to deal with this?

    Thanks!

  90. Ashish Olwe

    Hi Ramit,

    I agree with you and wish that I as a child would have learned these disciples which you have pointed out, We became have parents after six years of struggle but feel very blessed to have become a father of a son who is seven months old now. I would certainly like my child and future ones to develop the two qualities which you have very rightly pointed out along with that personally I would like my child to have a loving nature and a smile always.

  91. Heather

    I want to foster self-confidence in my daughter. When I was a teenager, I was shy and anxious, and I didn’t really get where confidence came from. Not til I was an adult (and still not super confident) did I figure out that self-confidence is simply trusting your own judgment (or being able to critically evaluate your judgment against others’) and not automatically second-guessing your experience/knowledge/instincts because of what you observe other people doing.

  92. Jon I

    Ramit,

    First let me say that I have been reading your stuff for the past several years, and continue to learn from it. I just bought my 18 year old son a copy of IWTYTBR, the NYT bestseller, as a high school graduation present. I also have a 16 year old son, and he will get a copy at his high school graduation as well.

    I am commenting because I am a physician, you asked what docs teach their kids, and I am spending a lot of time teaching my boys to be financially responsible and eventually financially independent. My parents did not teach this to me, and I have had to learn it over time, some of it from you.
    I am hoping that your book will reinforce the lessons that I gave them.

    Thanks for your endless content.

  93. Anand Rathore

    Hi , I think education is not enough we need scientific and value based education which develops overall personality of kids. physical , mental and spiritual growth is important.

  94. Tim

    This is amazing.
    I love your points – those are two things that are crucially needed for a successful life, and are only becoming rarer as we go on as a culture.

    However, I think they’re knee-jerk reactions.

    One of the things I love most about your material is how you have “reasoned from first principles” in creating it.
    Reasoning by analogy would have meant that your material would center on building a better budget, or cheaper places to find lattes – trying to do what everybody else is doing, but better.
    Instead, you reason from first principles. You look at what people -really- want, what they actually need, and what is fundamentally true about their nature in order to decide where to first place your efforts.
    This philosophy was recently called “Elon Musk’s Secret Sauce”, and I agree with that statement. Here’s what he had to say about it:
    “First Principles is a physics way of looking at the world. What that really means is that you boil things down to the most fundamental truths and then reason up from there.”

    People who are effective in every area of life reason from first principles and live according to ruthlessly pruned and enforced priorities. That’s the first thing, and it undergirds everything else.

    It’s this thinking that we are using to pass on our faith, to encourage our children to cultivate mindsets that will serve them no matter what their future looks like.

    10 years ago, “blogger” or “internet marketer” wasn’t a viable career option. “Tiny house on wheels” wasn’t a viable living arrangement. “Going to college” was the de facto path if a person wanted to be “successful” – with no further thought or nuance given to what “success” actually is.

    10 years from now, the world can be even more radically different. What will matter is equipping kids to navigate it themselves, with love, with altruism, with the mindset to start new things and finish what they start, to build good habits and replace bad ones, and to reason from first principles – in order to identify the best opportunities for living what you would call a Rich Life in the future.

  95. Lauren McElhatton

    I teach other people’s children as a career, and I am single mom to a young son. I teach all my children to critically engage with any idea they are being sold, to value their own thoughts and voice, and to know that they can ALWAYS improve, no matter how big the set back or how challenging the goal (they will have to ask for help and be willing to fail and try again). I try to teach them that everyone’s experience matters, and that little habits build big successes. This is hard work. And sometimes the teaching is a barrier to me doing these things myself. I try to live out the principles to teach by example. That makes me strive everyday, even when I’m not seeing the pay off. The clearest examples of a student being helped have been when I thought nobody was listening.

  96. Josh

    Things I’m teaching my current kids:
    – persistence: like you say, sustained effort is a skill to be learned. Sustained effort will yield results every time
    – experimentation: this goes a little hand in hand with persistence. Iteration and willingness to ‘fail’ and be creative.
    – how to spot bias: from blatant leaving out of facts to things like survival bias. I want them to understand there is ALWAYS more to any story including the ones they tell themselves.
    – to experiment with their intuition: intuition can be incredibly powerful if you learn by testing when to trust it and when to verify it by digging deeper.
    – delayed gratification: the joys of working to something big over time and relishing the process as well as the reward

  97. Ellen Rohr

    1. To charge more than it costs. To understand business basics…finance, accounting, reports. This is the language of money, and money buys options. 🙂

    2. Laughing is an A-1 priority.

    BTW, my son is 30 and makes his mama and papa proud every day!! <3

    Thanks, Ramit! You rock. xo$ E

  98. B

    Ramit,

    This is great and I agree. I totally have a crush on your brain and the way you think.

    😉

    -b

    • Ellen Rohr

      <3

  99. Emily Shaules

    I chose not to have kids and am grateful for that decision every day of my life. I do, however, teach my nephew the two biggest lessons I wished someone had taught me when I was younger:

    – I am the creator of my reality. My thoughts have power and the people who get, do, and are what they want in this life have learned to harness and focus them.

    – You don’t have to go along with the crowd (i.e., get married, have kids, go to college) to be happy. Find out what you’re passionate about, work hard, be kind to others, and you will do well.

  100. Caitlin

    I have two kids and the list is so long, but two that come to mind are:

    1) How to cook. Healthy eating is a lot easier and cheaper when you know how to make your own food. It’s something I learned a bit later in life and now it’s a real joy.

    2) How to “read” the media. We are bombarded with so many messages all the time. And it’s only going to get worse. From news with a political slant to Photoshopped images to curated Facebook feeds – it’s so important to be able to analyze the voice behind a message and what they are trying to achieve. I constantly have to remind myself to apply this critical thinking and not jump to conclusions.

  101. Julian Mellor

    BELIEVE IN YOURSELF (Ignore Society!)

    Whatever you hear, whatever you read, whatever people tell you, don’t take no for an answer! Believe in yourself and believe you can achieve anything! No truly successful people in the world, whether its athletes, business people, parents, acedemics, revolutionaries; NONE OF THEM got to where they were by thinking they COULDNT do something. You will never have regrets in life if you try new things, challenge ideas and believe you can achieve anything! Don’t waste the amazing time and opportunity on this earth thinking of reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do something, or doubting that you are the person who can make something happen. The truth is you are the person and you can make it happen, so just go out and DO IT!

  102. Lisa

    DELAYED GRATIFICATION – The #1 thing to teach kids. I am a native New Yorker, my parents were first generation Americans. I raised two kids in California, the state of materialism and instant gratification! “No, I’m not buying you a BMW and I don’t care if Suzie’s parents bought her one… do you see me driving a BMW??” You want a car, go get a job bagging groceries part-time in high school and save your money. Oh, and by the way here’s how the washing machine works because at 12 you’re old enough to start doing your own clothes. My son went to college, while working 30 hours a week, saved $20,000 so when he graduated and got a job, he immediately owned a condo at age 24. I helped him navigate the complexities of buying the condo, but he did the work and used his own money. Most of his friends live at Mom & Dad’s house and are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, with no sign of making a decision anytime soon.

  103. Kaleo Hao

    To know what you want and need in a relationship, and to stick with that standard… That way they can avoid going through a divorce like I did.

  104. Joy

    I am teaching my kids the importance of daily exercising. Health is the new wealth.

  105. Linda

    perseverance, respect, manners, kindness, play/exercise, healthy eating, healthy habits in general, all things in moderation, how to deal with feelings and resilience.

  106. Michelle

    1. You are responsible for your own happiness, achievements and path in life. Dont blame others or play the victim or come up with lousy excuses. You make it happen for yourself.

    2. Always be open-minded and kind to others. Everyone is going through stuff. Your perception of YOUR reality doesn’t have to be someone else’s reality. Allow others to have their opinions. There is not only one truth.

  107. Roman

    That there is only one person in the world that they can change — themselves.

    How to lift.

    How to code.

    That I love them to pieces.

    How to Lindy hop.

  108. Heather LeBas

    2 things I want my future kids to know:

    1) How important attitude is to approaching personal challenges and relationships. Your words and body language have the power to make or break someone’s day and cause a chain of reactions.

    2) How rewarding it is to be constantly be trying out and learning new things (even when you suck, actually especially when suck at first). Nothing builds more confidence then being so horrible at something but having the determination to get better and eventually becoming great.

    I also love the tips from your parents to take action. “Why don’t you submit an article for the newspaper?” I love the encouragement and nudge in the right direction to taking the next step. Definitely going to steal that one.

  109. Esther

    I feel like what you plan to teach your kids reflects something about your own life. Maybe it’s something that you wished you had known yourself or something that you are still working on. That being said, as a mom of a 2.5 year old, one thing that I plan on teaching her is to take risks. Being smart doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do anything with it or have any ambition. You could be a lazy smart person. I wish that I had taken more risks and put myself out there. On that note, I feel like the best way to teach her that is to take risks myself…so something to work on.

  110. Nicole Trapp

    Ok, so this happened to me too. I was always test 3 or 4 grades ahead in math. I want to take high level but the schools would not let me. Then in my least year of BA in math, I could not just do it anymore. At that time, I need to study it, but I did not know how to learn math. It being my least year of my BA in math, no one was understanding that I did not know how to learn. that before this point I never need to know how to learn.
    I was stuck. My grades dropped from all A’s to just passing. All because I was leave behind in school. By that I mean I was never pushed and every, when I try to get into a higher class, they would not let me.
    If I was simply put in the right classes for my still level, I would have learned how to learn at a young age. I would not have given up as I did.

  111. gargi

    Resiliency – since you can’t control the inevitable failures/hardships in life and understand that that concept is the no different than “a muscle only gets stronger against tension” likewise your mental and emotional states can only grow under subpar circumstances. Once you understand and embrace that, you feel so liberated from victim mentality!

  112. Eileen

    I have 3 children, 20yrs old, 18yrs old and 11yrs old. I have always taught them to try their best and to have a good attitude while doing something.
    To be kind to others, always.

  113. Doug

    I have two girls, ages 4 and 6. I teach my younger child to be resilient and to ask for what she wants. My older child is strong, intelligent and amazing- I just want to set her free and see what she becomes.

  114. Melanie

    I agree, Ramit. Health is important. One of the themes in my life has been health and relationships. I am very passionate about creating from abundance, using empathy and self-compassion because I have found when I am not coming from this I am entirely in my own way making choices that manifest health levels and relationship dynamics from which I feel like I am striving. this is what I want to teach my future child/children. great post!

  115. J C. Raymond

    Dear Ramit,
    Like you, I am a teacher. My father taught me to search for good teachers, like Ramit Sethi, and try to learn what they teach—advice that has paid me well—and you have given me much valuable information, for which I thank you.
    I would put your two ideas at the top of my list.
    Years ago, I advised my teenaged nieces to attend church, regularly, and choose their friends from other church goers, and they did.
    My father taught me to own, and manage, a business—advice that paid me well, for many years.
    I would teach my children how to care for their bodies, which could have saved me much pain, and suffering, if had learned those lessons as a child.
    At sixteen, I asked my first boss what he suggested I do, to help me succeed in business—he said that businesspeople needed to stand in front of others, and express themselves, clearly—he advised me to take a good public speaking course, an investment that changed my life for the better.
    Thank you for the chance to praise the people, who helped make my life better.
    I can repay you for the help you have given me, only by helping others as you have helped me, and many others.
    In a few months, I will publish a book for business-minded people that tells much good advice I got that helped me in business, and shows many expensive lessons that I had to learn for myself.
    Please wish me good luck.
    Very truly yours,
    (J) C. Raymond

  116. Luke

    I have two daughters and, bringing them up as a solo dad for the past 10 years, I’ve tried to instil them with the belief that if you don’t control your emotions, your emotions will control you. Everything else flows from that, in my opinion.

  117. Jordan

    Kindness and bravery are two big ones for me. But I definitely see the value in perseverence, and healthy habits of moving and eating.

  118. N

    Gymnastics!!! Build strength, flexibility and commitment (discipline). It sets up a great base for a healthy functional body that in turn can transfer to other sporting and physical activities as they get older. As a strength coach with high school students, those who were dancers and gymnasts acquire skills at a much faster rate then those who don’t (due to their advanced strength, flexibility, power and body awareness).

  119. Keeley T

    Hi Emilia,

    I’m having difficulty replying to your comment about my comment, so I’m replying here. Sorry!
    Respect is NOT treating someone else how you would like to be treated. Respect is treating them how THEY would like to be treated.
    I’ll give you some examples:
    – Some people may find it acceptable when others make fun of them. It rolls off their backs. Others are deeply offended. I may be okay with being called names, but if I were to call you names when you feel bothered by it, then I have not shown you respect.
    – Some people don’t care when others tell and scream at them, or even use profanity around them. If I am okay with this but then I do the same around you after you’ve said you feel uncomfortable, I have not shown you respect.
    – Some people find gossip acceptable. If I am okay with this but do the same either around you or gossip about you knowing it doesn’t sit well with you, I have not shown you respect.
    – I have an ethnic Irish name that I hate, and use my middle name. Calling me Keeley would be showing me respect. Knowing that I don’t use my first name, if you call me by it, I would feel very disrespected. Some people don’t think it’s a big deal, but it’s a very big deal to me.
    Nuff said.

  120. Doris Belland

    Perseverance and smart eating habits are at the top of my list as well for my 12 and 9 year-old girls. Four years ago I asked them to pick a sport and stick with it. My oldest, who was not inclined to do sports at all back then, whined about it for the longest time but when she realized that I was serious, she picked basketball. I decided to coach to ensure that she wouldn’t back out of practices. When you’re the coach’s kid, you have to show up. She grumbled for two years and then guess what: she got good and now prides herself on being one of the better players in her school for her age group. And she’s trying other sports. Ditto for my youngest.

    Eating well is as close as we get to religion in our family. As a result our kids know about lean proteins and veggies, and they love them. Sure we eat good desserts too and other pointless-but-tasty carbs, but they are an occasional treat. I couldn’t agree more with others who have commented that kids follow the lead of the parents.

    The only item I would add to your list is Fail Often. In order to fail you have to first try. Leaders get where they are by trying, failing and improving. Repeatedly. I want my kids to appreciate that failure is part of the learning process to get to success. Don’t fear failure, learn from it. Or as my uncle would say, “Suck it up Buttercup. Now get back out there.”

  121. Kiersten

    I totally agree with teaching the two habits that you described. Two more that I plan on adding to the mix are:

    1) Responsibility – I’m amazed at how many people nowadays don’t take responsibility for their actions. This kind of goes along with what you pointed out about healthy eating. Many people blame their unhealthy habits on metabolism or other factors because they don’t want to acknowledge that they have a lot of control over their health/weight. However, I think this also applies to taking responsibility for getting a job or creating your own job, taking responsibility for your interactions with other people, and doing the right thing if you break something or harm someone else instead of ignoring the situation and hoping it will just go away.

    2) Coding – not as much a habit, but a skill that I think is so important for young children to be exposed to. I don’t really care if my kids become professional software developers, but I think exercising the thought processes involved in coding would be generally beneficial. If anything, it should teach them to solve problems and think abstractly.

  122. Q

    1. Self-awareness
    2. In every situation we have multiple options, make decisions, have consequences

  123. Sarah

    Physical mastery

    I am cheating a bit with this one, because I have a six-year-old daughter and I didn’t come up with this on my own: she goes to an unconventional Japanese daycare ‘school’ and as I’ve watched them do their thing over time I’ve become convinced of the importance of physical mastery.

    As a child I was uncoordinated and uninterested in sports, so physical mastery was not important to me. My caring parents supported me the best way they knew: by telling me that I was smart and good at other things and that all that mattered was that I ‘tried my best’. I’m now convinced that this was the wrong approach.

    Over the last five or so years I’ve watched my daughter learn and grow at this unconventional “school”. They praise the process, sure, and encourage resilience; but it’s more than that. They feed the kids fantastic food: no sugar, lots of vegetables, plenty of protein, plenty of variety, and healthy amounts of ‘good’ peer pressure to eat that good food just like the teachers who eat the same food with them. And they make sure the kids grow up strong and healthy and good at using their bodies.

    The kids dress themselves from very early on (even if it takes ages and looks bad), clean the floors karate style every morning to build upper body strength (even if they don’t do a great job in the beginning), go on long walks, climb (trees, cupboards, pillars, slopes, hills, and eventually mountains), carry heavy things, and do rhythmic play (kind of like calisthenics?) to music almost every day. By the time they graduate (at six) every single kid can walk a balance beam on a steep incline, shimmy up a bamboo pole over 2 metres high, vault over a vaulting box, cartwheel, sew, use a saw, and much more. The daycare teachers don’t MAKE them do any of this and the motivation is NOT to train kids to be good at sports.

    The whole set up is this: the little kids grow up watching the big kids and the teachers doing all this cool stuff, so they are INSPIRED to want to do it too. But they can’t, because they’re too little/ they’re not strong enough/ they haven’t practiced enough. So they eat good food, clean the floors, do their rhythm play, etc., etc. until they can do some of those things. Then they get that sense of accomplishment and they feel awesome, and they work towards the next thing. So building not only the mindset, but also the strong, healthy bodies they need, enables them to eventually do the things that they want to do, which in turn leads to a deep belief in their own abilities: a JUSTIFIED belief!

    It’s incredible, and I wish that when I was growing up people had showed me that a certain degree of physical mastery was possible with the right approach, instead of telling me that the most important thing was just to ‘try my best’!

  124. Jim

    I compliment my son for effort, not for being ‘smart’. It is always a comment about how hard he worked, or, how he persevered.

    Parenting is possibly the hardest job ever, but, I also do tell him the first step to being great at something is first to be bad, then not quite as bad, and then, with work, you may get good. Eventually, you can be great. But, failing to try is the worst, followed nearly equally with failing to persevere.

  125. Vali

    Thank you Ramit, appreciate your kind dedication in order to improve the human society , I actually did the way you are recommending! it really worked! I fortunately have raised 4 children using the same real food categories, as well as moderate behaving in giving them freedom and life instruction, considering the social regulation , living area atmosphere and diligency.

  126. Workhabits.net

    Although the eating habits and stamina are good things to teach the kids, I would add to this list: an ability to earn money. By that I mean: to teach kids at least one skill to help them make money in the future. It could be anything, that one can do, even just to earn some money on the side.

  127. Stacy Barbee

    You know what the problem is? Several working parents serve ready made meals, chips, drinks, burgers, etc. to children for saving time. They are always looking for quick fixes. They feel good that their kids are happily eating hotdogs and burgers. But, what parents don’t realize is that they are helping children to develop bad food habits.

    I don’t blame parents completely. But, my suggestion would be to use a few tricks to develop healthy eating habits like,

    Keep some boiled shredded chicken in the freezer. Cook stir-fried veggies and add chicken into them. This would serve as a meal for your children. They would eat all the veggies happily. Add mixed herbs so that children eat the veggies too.

    Don’t serve food that you wouldn’t like to eat.

    Encourage your children to drink water at least 30 minutes after having a meal.

    Cook nutritious snacks for children – baked sweet potato fries, oatmeal snack cakes, fruit muffins, fruits with creamy dip, homemade fruit juice, homemade potato chips, hummus, scrambled eggs, etc.

    Sit down together and have a meal together so that your kids are forced to eat everything.

    Don’t serve food when your children are watching TV. This increases the chances for excessive snacking.

  128. John

    My future kids will know multiple languages and they will be able to relate to millions of other children and they will have amazing life experiences. These skills will be made my discipline high expectations and the tools provided to meet those expectations.

  129. Guilherme

    1) Healthy Habits
    2) Self-Directed learning and Application

    following-through without getting the 360 view for yourself will just end-up making them someone elses cog.

    Following through is surely important but I think the above will knock that out as as by-product.

  130. Stephanie Thomson

    I have 3 kids now, a 5 year old daughter and 3 fraternal twin boys. I will teach to keep it real on all levels because a real person is more appreciated than a fake anyday! And second, not to be afraid of money, not to be afraid to invest, build wealth that will extend beyond them, and to be entrepreneurial possible even creating jobs for others.

  131. Charles Forster

    100% agree with the two you chose, Ramit.

    For me, there is one other thing that sticks out more than anything else:

    RESPECT FOR MONEY.
    I don’t want to raise entitled little shits that expect the world to cater to their will. As soon as they’re old enough, they’ll be expected to get a job and their allowance will be tapered off. Other than the essentials, if they want something, they’ll have to pay for it. They’ll have to earn it, save for it and learn what it means to work hard for something.

    No matter how wealthy we are, there’s no way we’re going to give our kids everything they want.

    When I was growing up, I watched kids I knew get brand new BMWs for their first car. Granted, I was a bit jealous, but I also learned later that these people had no respect for what it takes to earn money. To them money was just something that was, not something you have to bust your ass to get. Of course that impacted their personalities and the way they treated others, especially people in jobs they looked down on.

    No matter how much money my wife and I make, we’re going to do our best to NOT raise a kid like the ones I grew up with.

  132. neil lopez

    For me I’ll train them to be self confident. I lack self confidence since I was a child because of damn bullies and how skinny I am. I’ll make sure they have self confidence while they’re young.

  133. cathy

    Let them fail. As a parent of two kiddos, 6 and 3, there are times I just need to let them fail and learn. Even something simple like slowing down on the stairs…..it doesn’t matter how many times I TELL them. If they experience it, they are a million times more likely to actually remember it (lesson in gravity!).
    Let them live life. Mine has certainly been full of failures but I’m doing just fine and better for it.

  134. Michael

    Thanks for sharing! I have been thinking about this topic as well. I was thinking whether I should told my kids about what I did when I was younger and the mistakes I made so they can avoid.

  135. Gabi

    Hello Ramit, I have five daughters ages 3-18. I completely agree with the Perseverance and Food Habits being very important. My kids eat what’s in front of them, they also help to prepare the food, do laundry, chores, take care of animals, clean the house, so lots to keep them understanding that we all have to get stuff done. However, the one thing I would add is these things need to be done with an attitude that the world is a pretty awesome place and having joy while folding the laundry is good. So I think teaching about a positive attitude about the world is useful. Respect and kindness toward other human beings is also very important in our house. I mean, who wants their kids to grow up and be a**holes?

  136. Rachel

    I want my children to understand that the world does not revolve around them; they are entitled to nothing (except my love) unless they work hard and likely fail many times first. They will also need to learn the value of charity, and sharing with less fortunate souls. And that all comes round to me, as they’ll only learn these things if I live and breathe and act them.

  137. Sarah C

    Ramit,

    I really appreciated reading this article and the comments below. I’m currently 7.5 months pregnant, due on August 10, 2016 and this is something that my husband and I have discussed at multiple times in our relationship. I feel that I mirror one of the earlier comments when I say that in addition to the 2 items you discussed, I would also add;
    Manners – always good to display at any age, and far too many people don’t utilize them.
    The joy of physical activity – I’m a product of the 80’s and as such have witnessed the change of kids playing outside to playing with their television or video games. While I won’t become some nazi of a mom and rule out these types of activities, I think that teaching the value of sweat, team-work, and appreciation of your own body is important and to not be taken for granted.
    Family Dinner – as a teen I loathed that my parents forced us to sit down together and discuss our boring days. But as an adult, I can now appreciate that this was sacred time for us to connect every day, and for my parents to demonstrate their love and their interest in my life, probably keeping me out of trouble and holding me accountable for my actions. Also, having a schedule that everyone in the family could depend on, I think that’s really good too.
    The Value of Friendship- and how to recognize a good friend vs. a bad one.
    Autonomy – not to be afraid to strike out on your own, but more importantly, not depending on others to do things for you.
    Learn another Language – this is just a preference, but one that I feel if taught at a young age will have tremendous positive impact in life. I myself, struggle with keeping Spanish and Italian straight, and it would have been such a great thing in my life to have learned to appreciate another language earlier.

    I also wanted to say THANK YOU to some of the others commenting above for the book suggestions -I’ve added them to my amazon cart to read next!

  138. Julius

    1. Do only things which they love because life is too short to waste time on things they hate.
    2. Financing. Nobody tought me this, and it gave me great pain in life.

  139. Amelia

    As a Nurse I would teach my kids how to advocate for their own Healthcare. I would teach them how to select and follow credible sources of Health content. Amelia- Healthcare Social Media Coach @RN_Solutions

  140. pegah

    1. Being generous with their knowledge in the future to teach
    2. not escape f problems And cognitive problems and deal with it

  141. Gwen

    I didn’t know before I had kids what I thought I would teach them (other than to love music and art and me!), but I do know what I taught them as I’m pretty much at the end of my child-rearing days (my son just got married last Saturday!).

    The things that helped us through getting up, getting dressed, eating, homework, chores, were so systematized that they didn’t even know what was happening to them. I worked full time, traveled, and their dad (who’s an engineer!), got the ball rolling with a few systems (like getting up at the same time every day. Pretty soon, we were doing things the same way every day, day in, day out. Of course, when we had off days (vacations, sick days, cranky days), we kept to the process, but focused on amping up the joy and nurturing to help get through stressful times.

    And what about the times they didn’t want to stick to our, “it’s time for…?” Well, life can be hard sometimes and we can get in an occasional rut. So I like to turn things like chores (ick), homework (double ick!) into games! How many people turn spelling words into cheers? Or hand their kids a marker to practice writing their words on their mom (arms, legs, tummy!?) Or finger-painting them in shaving cream? And turn chores into teaching moments, whether house-cleaning (let’s race), organizing (let’s put the bins way over there and throw these toys in?), cooking (we’re making an all-orange dinner tonight). When you do it together, it’s magical.

    The best part? When they teach you: with their homemade gnocchi with sage butter or the most precise pumpkin pie crust you ever saw – or the cleanest kitchen, It’s like wow. I say, “put the rigamarole on a schedule and make way for the fun.”

  142. Jesse

    Wow, #1 fits my upbringing to a T and I have struggled mightily to overcome it. Still a work in progress. I definitely hope to instill more discipline and perseverance into my young son.

    I’m grateful to my parents for getting it right on #2 however.

  143. Arwen

    I’m not a parent yet either, but I have some insights about developing personal discipline and healthy emotional development through movement. I worked my butt off in school my whole life even though I had problems processing verbal directions and I had to re-read everything 2-3 times through before I could even comprehend it. The experiences I had getting a masters degree in dance taught me about the connection between movement, character development, and healthy emotional expression. The 2 things my kids will learn from me will be 1) Move a lot to keep emotions managed, mind free, and body healthy 2) Spend more time creating small projects than dreaming large ones that are less likely to get done.

  144. Radek Hecl

    Nice article. I personally do follow this. On top of this I require my kids to do some sport where they can sweat out.

  145. Sofia

    I’m a parent already and there are 4 core things we’re teaching:

    – Mindfulness and the importance of down time
    – Good eating and sleeping habits
    – The impact of your actions on how you see yourself as a person
    – Honouring play/exploration/creative time daily

    We find the only way to truly “teach” anything to our kids is by embodying those qualities ourselves.

  146. Dustin

    First off this email was fantastic! So Thank you! Love reading about insights and opinions of professionals I look up to!

    As for teaching my future kids…

    1) A consistent fitness practice: Find what works for you whether its, swimming, lifting, yoga, biking anything. And make it an anchor in your life that you ACTUALLY enjoy!

    I believe so much of life’s success is a by product of a consistent fitness routine. Whenever I’m sad, mad, angry or confused I regularly find clarity after a hard workout that I enjoyed.

    2) Gratitude. From big wins to small victories and everyone around you. My caveat is to show your gratefulness for other people as well. I believe lots of people are grateful, but it means so much to someone when you show how appreciative you are for them. Be sincere and tell your friends and loved ones how grateful you are of them. I think it goes a lot further than we will really ever know.

  147. joy solomon

    I would always teach them and put this thing in their head ,that there would be places where no one would help them and they have to make it on their own . it is such a powerful thing and it makes them set an example and be more secure of themselves

  148. Yasmin

    I’m a 27-year old non-mother who’s also a 1st-generation American brown kid.

    Considering my age, among other things, I’m ready to be a parent and my fiance and I talk about how we’d raise our children pretty extensively. I’m sure it’s all easier said than done, but we’re big on discipline. We both came from parents who were encouraging but wouldn’t let us get away with anything, and I believe that we’re better adults for it.

    I hope to pass that on to my kids, but also to emphasize stress management and mental health. I was always happy as a kid, but whenever life got me down, I didn’t really know how to handle it. That makes sense, because neither of my parents were great at it, either. I’ve figured some things out in my life, though, so I’d like to save my kids the struggles that I went through because of the anxiety it caused me.

    It’s the same principle of the thin girl who doesn’t even try (me). If you’re raised on good stuff, it’ll come naturally to you when you’re older. Where I have learned to cope with stressful situations, I want my kids to be boss problem solvers who aren’t scared of a challenge.

  149. Jay Gupta

    It’s scary how the four points that lead to lack of perseverance apply to me.

    I don’t know know how to do it, but I’d like to teach my baby to think of things with screens (e.g. phone, laptop, TV) as something that you use when you need them, not as ends in themselves. By analogy, using the toilet feels good, but you don’t go sit on the toilet all day — you only do it when you need to. For example, texting your friends to set up a meeting is useful, but texting all day is probably just a time drain. Another example would be that watching TV to unwind after a productive day is okay, but watching TV all day probably isn’t (if you’re ill in bed, then maybe it’s okay).

  150. Martha

    Integrity;
    Be lovingly honest;
    Have Wisdom/Street Smarts;
    Take calculated risks;
    Responsibility-every choice or reaction you had/made got you here;
    “No is a complete sentence” and Discernment;
    “You have free will”/give 2 choices and follow through on effects of those choices;
    $$ comes from work, skill, negotiation, positioning, relationships, vision, and perseverance;
    Wealth comes from wisdom, discipline, positioning, and attitude;
    Who cares what God is-as long as you know it’s not you alone but that you’re a part of it-and being in touch with that gives you superpowers;
    Family breakfast and dinner is critical;
    Early morning and nightly routines;
    Forgiveness;
    How to recognize feelings and not let them own you;
    Secrets keep people sick and/or stuck;
    I am wrong at times and self centered. Some messages you learned from me stemmed from my laziness in parenting. When you grow up there will be some things stored in your “parent” memory holding you back that you will need to reprocess through your “adult” brain;
    Love is an action;
    Be true to yourself-rebels are amazing when channelled correctly.

    I have a 2.75 year old boy. I am 38 weeks pregnant with our girl. I know it’s not your thing-but we do affirmations and we make a habit of owning up to our parenting mistakes to him at night and tell him what would have more effective.

  151. Paul

    Hi Ramit,
    I think the biggest challenge for us young parents today is teaching our children to control technology and not let technology control us. We, specially the young ones, are turning into social zombies, and we are channeling more and more communication through our smartphones than anything else.
    I always remember reading that words are just a small part of our communication (body language plays a huge part) and our children are growing up with a real handicap in this sense. That is millions of years of evolution being disrupted. And you know how easily misinterpretations occur on emails, chats, etc….
    The other part is to learn how to help them handle all this unlimited access to information. I mean, being able to see any kind of porn or extremist religious message with the click of a button. We can isolate them as much as possible, but that will only make matters worse. A sane and wise mind of parents and a united family is more important than ever.

  152. Andi

    I like this topic!

    I could talk for hours on this. My top 4 include:

    1. Perserverance- Why?
    Teaching this from an early age will instill a lifelong skill that every person should acquire. It is not an easy one. My brother and I learned perserverance leading us both to better overcome struggles in our lives. With natural perserverance comes resilience. And, resilience is one of life’s most powerful weapons.

    2. Compassion/Respect for all- Why?
    Showing compassion and respect for all people is key to living a happier and successful life. No matter how I am treated, I come from a family that taught me to always give respect and compassion wherever I go.

    3. Healthy All Natural Food Habits- Why?
    I eat all natural healthy food options on a consistent basis. It took time but now it is easy. My parents helped direct me on the right track. I do not want my future children to become a statistic. Obesity is spirialing out of control in the US. I long for my future children to eat right to ensure they outlive me.

    4. Independence- Why?
    I am a strong and independent woman. Because I was taught independence from as far back as I can remember, I believe in myself. I believe in taking chances in life. I believe that I am talented and can use my talents to better others and myself.

    After I marry, these 4 life lessons will be passed on to my future children! 😊

  153. Richard

    Dear Ramit,

    I agree with you and I disagree with you at the same time. About different things.

    I agree with you that perseverance and healthy eating habits are near the top of my priority list. I want my kids to master them. (Other things include financial literacy, emotional intelligence, compassion towards others etc.)

    However I disagree with you because of the underlying attitude you portray through your use of language. After all, you even said “IDGAF!” in the beginning of this post. This implies a rebellious and unrelenting attitude where you brute force your way through everything that stands in your way. (Imagine an angry warrior running with a tree trunk in his hands and he uses it to crash through every closed door in his path. That is what your post reminds me of.)

    You mention that many people start something and do not complete it.
    Okay, now consider the scenario where you child starts something and does not complete it. Why? Because he does not feel like doing so. Now, what do you do?
    Force him? (Do it or else I will scold you! Do it or else no one will like you! Do it or else you have no future! Do it or else you won’t get a job! Do it or else……)
    Is there a better method instead of forcing the child?

    You know some of my friends type at the keyboard with only 2 fingers. And when they are angry and want to complete an assignment faster, they type faster, more angrily, and more vigorously… with their 2 fingers.

    But there is no way that they can type faster than someone who uses all 10 fingers, even if they brute force their way (with 2 fingers).

    Not to mention that my friends who use 2 fingers get mentally tired much faster too.

    You may notice that what I described above closely resembles a scenario where someone pushes through with mere willpower alone. Willpower can help. But without something else more important, willpower drains you and leaves you without much to show for in the end.
    What is the more important thing?

    Wisdom power.

    But the problem with wisdom is that once we get wisdom we may underestimate its value. Typing with 10 fingers is wiser than typing with 2 fingers. However, ask a 10-finger typist whether he feels like a wise person. He probably doesn’t. And suppose you tell him, “but you type with 10 fingers”! After which he probably says something like, “But everyone does it!” or “That?! That is common sense, isn’t it?”

    And when someone asks him how he completes assignments so quickly, he may say something like “Practice! Practice! Practice!” without mentioning that he types with 10 fingers.

    That is why willpower gets the sensational limelight and is advocated by many teachers. But wisdom power almost gets lost in the backdrop.

    Of course, the situation of typing with 10 fingers or 2 fingers is just a metaphor. In life there are easy methods of doing things and difficult methods of doing things. And sometimes the differences are not as visible / obvious as the typing scenario.

    Sometimes children hate reading because they stare too hard at the book and hence get tired easily. But they do not realize that their gaze is causing the problem. They think that it is the story not being interesting enough, or the words being printed too closely together. And you know what is the tricky part? The tricky part is that they are kind of right. With everything else constant, if the story was more interesting they will be able to read longer before succumbing to tiredness.

    With everything else constant, a 2 finger typist will be able to push through and type longer if the assignment is due tomorrow rather than if it is due in a week’s time. The sense of urgency temporarily boosts his willpower.

    So how does wisdom arise? With optimism and patience.

    Wisdom arises when a person is able to pause for a while, think about what he is doing and how he is doing it and consider that maybe there is a different way of doing things. And he must have the optimism to consider that something else may yield a better result.
    Sometimes the change inspired by wisdom can be very simple. It may be as simple as not staring so hard at the book. Or to pause for a second after reading each paragraph. Or to feel kinder to himself etc.

    So when I think of a wise person, the image of someone contemplating his work over a cup of coffee comes to mind. (Contrast this to the image of an angry warrior crashing down every closed door in his way.)

    And when a person finds an easier way to do things, he would experience less resistance while doing it and naturally he would not be tempted to give up so soon.

    Ramit, with regard to the second part of your post on healthy eating, you mentioned that if healthy eating habits are cultivated early enough, bad eating habits will vanish.

    When reading that part of your post, my friend’s personal experience came to mind. My friend was a science student from elementary school all the way until his pre-university days. He started being a science student so young. But he told me in his pre-university days that never ever is he going to study a science subject after pre-university. When he enters university, he will study something absolutely unrelated to science. And sure enough, he studied English Literature! And when we meet up, he recites Shakespeare to me 🙂

    He hates science so much that he made the resolution to never study it ever again after leaving the Pre-U institute. This was despite the fact that he was able to push through it for 10+ years from elementary school until then. Ironic, but true.

    He hated it, it didn’t matter that he had started it young, he resolved never to do it again.

    So the problem is that he hated it.

    The way I would teach kids to eat healthily is to find delicious ways to cook healthy food. Sure, the food may not be as delicious as those deep fried stuff. But at least, while the healthy food is in my kid’s mouth, they would not hate it, there is still plenty that they can enjoy about the healthy food. It is somewhat like when you are sitting in a luxury car, there is plenty for you to feel happy about. The soft cushion, the surround sound etc. Even though it is not a private jet.

    And I would spend my lifetime finding out about this: How do I mix and cook healthy ingredients so that they taste good?

    There is more than one answer. In fact, there are many great answers. I will learn as many as possible.

    Ramit, you wonder what CEOs and other high-performing individuals would teach their kids. I am sure they would be very willing to share those with you… … if their child is doing a good job.

    I know plenty of bosses who love to mention that their child just got a scholarship. Or that their child just got accepted into the law programme at university. But when their child breaks the bond after the scholarship? Or when their child repeats a year in school? Well, those bosses get defensive and angry at me for even bringing the topic up. (And they start mentioning that I didn’t tuck in my shirt properly).

    Ramit, your situation is similar to many bosses. The CEO interacts mostly with the Heads of Department. In other words, the high-performing individuals interact mostly with other high-performing individuals.

    You charge very high prices for your courses. Chances are, only people who feel good about what they can achieve after the course would apply for it. Otherwise they would think that it is too expensive.

    There are very many factors that help a person succeed. Some factors are always publicized and sensationalized. Others are often left out. The people who feel good about their ability to perform after your course probably already have many of the factors handled. Most of the work has been done already. They just need help in the last lap of the race. And sure enough, they succeed.

    In other words, you tend only to deal with high-performing people. You tend only to deal with people who already have most of their act together. Your high price filters out everyone else who has deeper underlying difficulties that needs to be addressed before they can start feeling good about their chances.

    However, with children, you cannot choose. There isn’t a price tag you can put to filter out children who feel bad about themselves. There isn’t a place in life where you can reach that will keep you safe from child difficulties. (After you become the CEO, you pretty much shelter yourself from the difficulties faced by the junior staff. When the junior staff see you, they just smile and greet good morning sir. And you don’t get bothered by their difficulties.)

    But with children, everything can come.
    All the best!

  154. René Vidal

    Ramit,

    I will teach my three boys “the power of good systems and strategies”. I used to look down on systems as rigid before realizing I needed to become more flexible and open to learning.

    Further understanding through my own journey that it was by learning a simple teaching system that jumpstarted my tennis coaching career and gave me the confidence to talk about what I do, etc.

    If you think about it from a business perspective, the beauty of a Goldman Sachs or a Merrill Lynch is the system learned, the skills developed and so on. The name on the front of the shirt is never our own…

    Thanks for sharing Ramit.

  155. wishicouldsurf

    Like it…. I have a wonderful 8.5 year old and those are two (of the many) things I feel are very important. I liked your description of the adults with little perseverance – I’ve seen that myself many times over. I can’t stand all the participation awards given out these days and love that my daughter participates in a couple sports where you don’t get awards just for participating. A couple of years ago she told me it wasn’t fair that she didn’t get an award and she was upset and I told her that races are the most fair thing she will do in her life and only the 3 fastest people receive awards. Food – totally important to establish good habits young and teach the importance of eating real food and not give in to feeding them only what they “like”.

  156. Clarence

    Don’t play video games. They are the biggest waste of time I have ever experienced.

  157. JK S

    Love those. Mine would be:
    1. Taking risks – A couple years back, my wife and I quit our jobs to go to work for ourselves we’ve been able to both quit our jobs, work from home and raise our (new) son together, so neither one of us ever have to miss a moment. Best decision ever, even though in the moment people didn’t understand. This was actually made possible by the material my wife learned after she joined Earn1K.

    2. Taking responsibility – When something goes wrong, just man up and say “I’m sorry, my fault.” (Assuming it actually was.) That speaks so much more to me (personally), than when someone goes: “I’m sorry… it was Excuse A, B, C, but yeah….” Everyone makes mistakes, just freaking own it and you’ll stand apart from all the other idiots who blame everything on some other outside thing.

    • JK S

      Clarify on 1. The only reason we have the life we want is because we took that risk. I hope my son learns that sometimes you have to break the “rules” prescribed by society in order to live an extraordinary life.