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How Parents Can Help Their Kids Develop Success Attributes

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By Marshall Raskind, Ph.D.

Goal setting is the same kind of idea. This is where parents want to look at whether or not their kids tend to set goals, whether it's in an academic or non-academic setting:

  • Do they know how to prioritize?
  • Are their goals realistic?
  • Do they know the various steps to reach certain goals?
  • Do they understand the necessity to work with others to reach those goals?

Moving, again, beyond the educational realm, but knowing that they want to consider goal setting in regard to, let's say, physical health, psychological health, financial goals, independent living goals, or goals in the social arena. Some of the things parents can do along those lines is to help children:

  • Develop the various strategies for setting goals
  • Define a goal
  • Understand the importance of setting goals
  • Prioritize goals
  • Look ahead to possible obstacles or road blocks before they happen.

In so many cases, the individuals who were not successful would just get blindsided, kind of running into a brick wall without having any kind of premonition or forethought about that.

Likewise, in regard to the presence and use of effective support systems :

  • Does my child know when he needs help?
  • Does he know how to get help?
  • Does he have various compensatory strategies - in some cases, technological supports?

We've done a lot of research at the Frostig Center regarding the various types of assistive technology. We had initially developed a parent guide dealing with assistive technology and we are hoping to have a parent guide on the success attributes coming out towards the first part of next year. The guide will be accessible and easy for parents to use. Getting through some of those academic research articles is a little much, even for me at times.

So, to review, parents want to ensure that kids understand the benefits of using support systems, recognize the various signs when they're in need of help, learn how to accept help, and develop trust in others. Also, I think there needs to be - and we found this in many of the individuals who were successful - an awareness of the various laws that protect them within our country - and there are many laws that really can help them reach their goals - and they need to gain an awareness of those federal laws, in some cases state laws, that can be of use to them.

For example, special education laws and, as they move into the employment arena, there are a number of federal laws that will help protect them within employment settings. As they move into post-secondary settings, there's federal legislation that can be very helpful to them in optimizing their post-secondary experience.

The final area is emotional coping strategies , and parents can ask themselves:

  • Is my child aware of the situations that produce stress?
  • Do they have various strategies for alleviating that stress?
  • Do they know where to get help?
  • Do they know when to get help?

And moving beyond the school environment, kids have got to think about stress in a number of situations. The question is: Can parents and educators help children develop these coping strategies? We think that they certainly can. We know that therapists and psychologists and child counselors have been doing this for years. So we're pretty optimistic that you can help children to recognize the stress triggers and develop various coping strategies in that area.


  • Raskind, M.H., Goldberg, R.J., et al. "Patterns of Change and Predictors of Success in Individuals With Learning Disabilities: Results From a Twenty-Year Longitudinal Study." Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, Vol. 14, Issue 1.

Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D., is a learning disability researcher. He is a frequent presenter at international LD conferences and is the author of numerous professional publications on learning disabilities. He is well-known for his research on assistive technology and longitudinal studies tracing LD across the life span.