Book Review: How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

Published: 2019-12-09 07:30:00
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Many children go to school and work to become successful individuals in future; however, they do not understand the factors that influence their success. Success has been mostly recognized by the scores in academic work; therefore, when one has grown to be a successful person, he/she tells the story behind his success as intelligence. People have often associated success with knowledge; however, as a psychologist, one can be able to understand this concept in different ways. Therefore, parents need to understand some of the factors that can influence the success of their children so that we do not force our children to read a lot because we want them to be a success. How Children Succeed by Paul Tough explains these factors that most people do not know. This book describes the qualities that determine the success of a child; for example, curiosity, perseverance, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control.

The behavior of a child is mostly influenced by the environment that he/she is brought up. Therefore, the child will always behave in a way that he/she sees other people around him/her act. When a child is brought up in an environment where he/she can only see bad things, he/she is most likely to adopt the behavior. For example, children brought up in gang related areas grow up to have the gang mind because it is what they interact with every day in their lives. On the other hand, when a child is brought up in an environment where he/she can see people reading, he/she will develop the interest of reading as well. Again, a child who sees his/her parents fight every day can develop the traumatic depression that can affect his/her performance in school and also in social life. Therefore, a childs life is majorly influenced by the environment and the things in that environment including people.

According to Tough, the experience of children can influence their performance in future. Tough describes the concept of how to fail and how not to in the first chapter of the book highlighting the reasons behind a childs success. According to Tough, the childs past experiences can have adverse impacts on his academic performance and health as well. Children who go through stressful or traumatic situations when they are still young can have a long-term challenge which can cause other long term damage effects on him/her (McConnell & Amber). However, Tough believes that the parents and the caregivers have a full responsibility of protecting the children from going through this damaging process; he thinks that the parents and caregivers are the antidotes to this problem. He says the effect of good parenting is not just emotional or psychological, the neuroscientists say; it is biochemical (28). For example, the divorce of parents can adversely affect the child. Therefore, as Tough explains, parents need to reconsider their choices and how it might affect the childs life (Tough 28). Again, a child who is beaten every now and again can have a difficult time coping with the academic work in class because he/she is emotionally disturbed. Another exemplary situation is where parents fight in front of children every day (Alho); this can also expose the child to an emotional discomfort state which can affect his/her life when he/she grows up.

The place where one comes from does not matter; everyone has the same capability of becoming successful. Tough also highlights the process of building good character traits and skills that can guarantee the childs success in future. Tough argues that students who succeed or pass college are not most likely the ones who passed in the lower grades; however, he explains that the success in college depend on the success in the major character skills that the children possessed when they were in lower grades. Children learn a lot of things in their environment; what they see they pick although they are not able to choose the pleasant ones from unacceptable. He says that characters are set of abilities or strengths that are very much changeable, and one can learn, practices also teach (Tough 59). Children in school come from different family backgrounds; some come from wealthy and stable families while some come from struggling and ordinary families. The two groups cannot use the same method to be successful. Tough gives an example that students at Riverdale enjoy the social safety net which comes from their families, schools, and culture; it protects them from consequences of occasional mistakes and bad decisions (104). However, children who come from humble backgrounds do not have this kind of privilege; therefore, they must also have a way to deal with social security issues. For example, Tough explains that such children who do not have social privileges because they are not from wealthy families need to be more grit, socially intelligent and self-control (104). Also, the teachers or mentors can also help such children succeed by inculcating the mental skills and character strengths that they need to pass college (Tough 134).

The childs cognitive ability can significantly influence his/her performance. Science rejects the general view that the character strengths that affect the childs success are not innate or someone born with; however, they are acquired from the environment. Tough explains this concept stating that they are rooted in brain chemistry and molded in a measurable and predictable ways by the environment in which children grow up (196). Therefore, no one is born with success; they become successful because of the character strengths that they acquire from the environment. For example, a child who is brought up in a drug abuse area can quickly become a drug addict because it is what he picks and learns from the environment daily. Again, children who become aggressive and violent are mostly influenced by their surroundings; they must have picked the character from the environment, maybe from the parents who are violent or friends (Alho). Some children work hard in school because they have seen someone who has worked hard become successful, so they are also influenced to become such a person by adopting the character strengths of hard work. Therefore, the environment has a great impact in the childs life.

In conclusion, as parents, we should understand the reason behind the success of children. Most of the reasons as we have seen in this paper are contributed significantly by the parents or caregivers of children. Children cannot be able to pick the acceptable and unacceptable character; therefore, the parents and caregivers need to help them chose the right ones by exposing them to the acceptable characters. A child will only pick a character that he/she is often witness or experience.

Works Cited

Alho, Chantelle Manuela. "The social effects of the exposure to domestic violence during childhood: a socio-educational perspective." (2015).

McConnell, David, and Amber Savage. "Stress and resilience among families caring for children with intellectual disability: expanding the research agenda." Current Developmental Disorders Reports 2.2 (2015): 100-109.

Tough, Paul. How children succeed. Random House, 2013.

sheldon

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