Study: Social Skills, Not Good Grades, Linked with Lifelong Happiness

*Link to original post  here (Yahoo Shine)

Don’t fret if your kids didn’t make the honour roll – their future well-being doesn’t depend on it.

According to the Journal of Happiness Studiesacademic achievement has less impact on adult well-being than we might think. The study followed just more than 800 children over a 32-year period, exploring the role of academic achievement and social development on future adult well-being. For the purpose of this study, well-being is defined as a combination of a sense of coherence, positive coping strategies, social engagement and self-perceived strengths.

The results showed a strong link between social connectedness and overall adult happiness. The findings suggest that parents should focus their attention on helping their children develop social skills. Parent can do this by encouraging their children to participate in social activities such as youth groups and sporting clubs.

But isn’t it important that our children do well in school? Apparently, academic achievement has little effect on adult well-being, according to the authors of the study, associate professor Craig Olsson from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, and his colleagues.

I admittedly was never overly stressed about my kids getting straight A’s. Of course I expected them to do their best, but I also encouraged them to forge strong bonds with classmates. As a shy kid myself, I had a hard time making friends. I did have a few, but I never really “fit in” so I didn’t want my children to go through that same painful experience.

When we held our little bundles of joy in our arms for the first time we made a multitude of wishes on their behalf:  We wished for their health and future success, but most of all we wished for their happiness. We promised to do our part to help them succeed in life. We would attend all their ball games and sit through all their school performances; we’d read to them, limit their screen time and help them with their homework.

I started out with good intentions when my girls were wee ones. They were signed up for every activity imaginable (with great aspirations of becoming Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters). They went to singing lessons and piano lessons; the list goes on. But life got in the way, as it sometimes does, and sacrifices needed to be made to preserve my sanity family harmony. And most of all, they missed their friends.

So we spent less time driving to practices, and a little more time just hanging out together. They did remain in organized activities, but not as many, and not so much that it took time away from their friends. They’d have them over to “study” but most times they’d just be chatting, as they often did during class –as evidenced by their average marks– and that was OK with me. As long as they were happy (and not failing), I was happy for them.

For now, my 11-year-old’s organized activities are limited to soccer and karate, and she has no ambitions to be a star goalie, or ninja, quite yet. I hazard a guess that it’s okay at this age to not have her life mapped out. And my 17-year-old, who has double aspirations of being a starving special effects artist and musician, spends equal time talking to friends and honing her craft (AKA jamming with friends and creating videos to share on YouTube).

While my kids aren’t the highest performing students in their class, (not for their lack of ability) they do have a healthy set of social skills. And this may be more important to their future happiness than being scholars.

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One response to “Study: Social Skills, Not Good Grades, Linked with Lifelong Happiness”

  1. wartica says :

    I wish I would’ve know this growing up because I was never a top-notch caliber student, and I’m doing just fine in life now:)

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