For 20 years, researchers followed a group of nearly 800 students and you know what they discovered? The one thing our kids really don’t like, they have to learn to love. If we want to raise successful adults, they have to learn to share.

But it isn’t just about sharing. It’s also about cooperation and a willingness to help.

These social-emotional skills and whether or not your child possess them are actually huge predictors of how successful your child will be as an adult. Teachers assessed students on a scale of 0-4. Children who scored a three on social competence were four times more likely to get a college degree by age 25 than those who scored a one.

But it doesn’t end there. Children who scored higher than others in terms of understanding other people’s feelings, sharing with others, cooperating with peers, helping others, listening to others, and not being bossy were more likely to have a full-time job at age 25. Children who scored poorly were at risk for arrest and time in juvenile detention as well as more likely to binge drink and apply for public housing.

“These are skills that probably portend their ability to do well in school, to pay attention, and to navigate their environment,” said Damon E. Jones, a research assistant professor of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the paper.

It turns out that sharing is more than caring. But don’t rely on the school to teach your child. Real learning begins in the home. The earlier you teach these skills to your children the better.

  • Encourage sharing. 
  • If your child hurts someone (either physically or emotionally), don't stop at having her apologize. Ask her to ask the other child how she can make it better.
  • Show your child how to let other kids choose the game or how to build the lego house. Each of their ideas should be heard and explored. 
  • Volunteer with your child to show her what it means and feels like to help others. 

Here are some more ideas to get you started. 

7 Random Acts of Kindness to Do with the Kids

How to Not Raise a Spoiled Child

14 Manners that are Nice to See in Kids

11 Ways to Teach Your Child to Share