Did you know that you are the greatest influence in your child’s life? Think about it. As a parent, you are a role model. You provide emotional support and fulfil basic needs. You are your child’s advocate at school and a cheerleader on the sidelines. Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be.

Two generations — One positive outcome

Currently, United Way is working with partner agencies that focus on a two-generation approach. This approach engages parents and their children together to strengthen the whole family, particularly those who are low-income. While the basis of a two-generation approach is to end intergenerational poverty, the same type of model can be applied to all parents and children to create a bright and successful future.

Model the success you want your child to achieve

Life is busy and sometimes it’s difficult to squeeze everything into a day. Sure, it may be easier to pick up a cell phone rather than a book, or grab a protein bar rather than cook a meal, but keep in mind that your child is watching. Whether you realize it or not, you play a critical role in shaping your child’s future, so you may want to rethink some habits. We’re not talking about major life changes – just some simple modifications that can make a big impact in your child’s life. Here are 5 ways you can be the champion of your child’s success:

  1. Get Reading: Help your child get ready for school — and for life — by reading together every day. Literacy is key. Even when your child is older, make sure she sees you reading. Pick up a book or magazine, read an online article or blog so she knows that reading isn’t just a part of academics, it’s a part of life.
  2. Stay Healthy: Illness, lack of sleep and stress are just some of the things that can affect attendance and learning in school. Set the stage for a healthy home by keeping nutritious food in the house, removing electronic devices from the bedroom and giving guidance about time management goals.
  3. Be Social: It’s never too early to model positive social skills and encourage healthy relationships. Keep up to date with your child’s circle of friends. For older kids, find out how they support each other if one is struggling. They may think they have all the answers, but it’s okay to offer them suggestions on how to handle difficult situations.
  4. Inspire Growth: According to the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network, the level of education attained by a parent is a strong predictor of a child’s success. Talk with your child about how you got to where you are now and the decisions you made to get there. Sharing these types of stories can help your child begin planning for the future.
  5. Start Saving: Financial resiliency plays a vital role in a person’s ability to become financially secure and maintain financial stability. Start a college savings account for your child as soon as possible. Research from the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network shows children with as little as $499 in a college savings account are more likely to enroll in college and graduate.  

These are just a sample of strategies to try at home with your child. Remember that success looks different for every family, so make sure you align these and other strategies based on your definition of success.

Read how United Way’s partner agencies are using the two-generation approach to eliminate poverty: When it Comes to Eliminating Poverty, Two is Better than One