How to Raise Successful Kids -- Without Over-Parenting | Julie Lythcott-Haims | TED | Summary and Q&A

October 4, 2016
YouTube video player
How to Raise Successful Kids -- Without Over-Parenting | Julie Lythcott-Haims | TED


A speaker challenges the harmful effects of overparenting, arguing that children need space to develop self-efficacy and a broader definition of success.

Install to Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Transcripts

Key Insights

  • 👪 Parenting style impacts children's development and can hinder their ability to become their authentic selves.
  • 🎓 The pressure to succeed academically and achieve specific goals can lead to a narrow definition of success for children.
  • 🚫 A checklisted childhood, focused on grades, accolades, and achievements, can inhibit free play and overall happiness in children.
  • 💡 Developing self-efficacy is crucial for children, and overhelping and overprotecting can hinder their ability to learn and grow on their own.
  • 🔑 Success should not be solely defined by attending top colleges or having prestigious careers; happiness and fulfillment come from having a growth mindset, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.
  • 🔍 The Harvard Grant Study shows that doing chores as children leads to professional success, emphasizing the importance of instilling a strong work ethic.
  • ❤️ Love, both self-love and love for others, needs to be prioritized in childhood to foster happiness and meaningful relationships.
  • 🎓 College rankings should not dictate a child's worth or future; there are many paths to success and fulfillment outside of big-name universities.


You know, I didn't set out to be a parenting expert. In fact, I'm not very interested in parenting, per Se. It's just that there's a certain style of parenting these days that is kind of messing up kids, impeding their chances to develop into theirselves. There's a certain style of parenting these days that's getting in the way. I guess what I'm sa... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does overparenting impact children's development and sense of self?

Overparenting tends to create children who feel that their worth comes from external accomplishments, such as grades and awards, rather than intrinsic qualities. This can lead to a lack of confidence, anxiety, and burnout as they constantly strive for perfection.

Q: What evidence supports the idea that success is not solely dependent on attending prestigious colleges?

The speaker mentions that happy and successful individuals come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including state schools, small colleges, and even those who may have initially struggled academically. The lesson is that success is not limited to attending a small subset of well-known universities.

Q: How can parents encourage self-efficacy in their children?

Parents can promote self-efficacy by allowing their children the space to make decisions, experience trial and error, and take responsibility for their actions. By providing support, guidance, and a nurturing environment, parents can help their children develop the necessary skills and mindset to succeed.

Q: What is the role of chores in childhood development?

Research from the Harvard Grant Study suggests that children who engage in chores, starting at an early age, develop a strong work ethic and important life skills that contribute to professional success. The ability to contribute to the betterment of the whole, even through unpleasant tasks, fosters a mindset that is valuable in the workplace.

Q: How can parents strike a balance between involvement and overparenting?

The speaker emphasizes that involvement and interest in a child's life are important, but they should not cross the line into overparenting. Parents can strike a balance by allowing their children to take ownership of their choices, offering support and guidance when needed, and fostering a sense of autonomy and self-efficacy.

Q: What are the negative effects of a "checklisted childhood"?

A checklisted childhood, focused on ticking off boxes for achievements, grades, and extracurricular activities, can lead to burnout, anxiety, and a lack of genuine self-worth. Children may feel constant pressure to please their parents or meet society's expectations, diminishing their overall well-being and sense of self.


In this video, the speaker discusses the harmful effects of a parenting style that prioritizes achievement, grades, and college admissions above all else. This style of parenting, referred to as the "checklisted childhood," puts immense pressure on children to constantly excel and meet certain expectations. The speaker argues that this narrow definition of success can have detrimental effects on the well-being and development of children. Instead, the speaker advocates for a focus on building self-efficacy, teaching children the value of chores and love, and providing them with a nurturing environment to become their true selves.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the "checklisted childhood"?

The "checklisted childhood" refers to a parenting style that revolves around achieving specific goals, such as getting into top colleges, earning high grades, and accumulating accolades and awards. This style of parenting values external validation and places immense pressure on children to constantly meet these expectations.

Q: How does the "checklisted childhood" impact children?

The "checklisted childhood" deprives children of free playtime and the opportunity to explore their own interests. They are constantly focused on tasks and activities that will boost their chances of success, leading to a lack of balance in their lives. Additionally, children in this style of parenting often derive their self-worth from external achievements and the approval of their parents, which can be detrimental to their mental well-being.

Q: Why do parents engage in the "checklisted childhood" parenting style?

Parents may engage in the "checklisted childhood" parenting style out of a desire to ensure their children's future success and create brag-worthy accomplishments. There is often a fear that if children don't meet these high standards, they will miss out on opportunities and struggle in their adult lives.

Q: What is self-efficacy, and why is it important?

Self-efficacy is the belief in one's ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. It is a fundamental aspect of the human psyche and plays a crucial role in personal growth and development. When children have self-efficacy, they understand that their own actions lead to outcomes and possess the confidence to navigate through life's challenges.

Q: How can parents help foster self-efficacy in their children?

Parents can foster self-efficacy in their children by allowing them to engage in independent thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving. It is important for children to have opportunities to plan, experience trial and error, and take responsibility for their actions. By stepping back and letting their children navigate their own lives, parents can empower them to build self-efficacy.

Q: Should parents completely step back and not be involved in their children's lives?

No, the speaker emphasizes that complete disengagement is not the solution. Parents should still be involved and interested in their children's lives. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between being supportive and providing guidance while also allowing children the space to develop their own skills and independence.

Q: How can parents prioritize love and chores in their children's lives?

Parents can prioritize love by creating moments of genuine connection with their children, expressing joy upon seeing them, and showing unwavering love and acceptance. As for chores, parents should encourage their children to contribute to household tasks. Engaging in chores teaches them responsibility, teamwork, and a sense of contribution to the well-being of the family unit.

Q: Do children need to attend prestigious colleges to be successful?

No, the speaker emphasizes that attending prestigious colleges is not the only path to success. Happy and successful individuals come from various educational backgrounds, including state schools, small colleges, or even community colleges. The focus should be on developing skills, a growth mindset, and overall wellness to thrive in any environment.

Q: How can parents shift their perspective on college admissions?

Parents can shift their perspective on college admissions by broadening their view beyond the few prestigious colleges often prioritized. By considering a wider range of colleges, parents can relieve themselves of the pressure and understand that success can be achieved in various institutions. It is important to prioritize personal growth and development over entering a select group of colleges.

Q: What is the speaker's ultimate message?

The speaker's ultimate message is that parents should focus less on the specific achievements and outcomes of their children, such as grades and college admissions. Instead, they should prioritize love, the development of self-efficacy, and a nurturing environment that allows children to become their authentic selves. Parents should encourage independence, provide support, and let their children's own desires guide their paths.


The "checklisted childhood" places excessive pressure on children to achieve specific goals, leading to a lack of balance and potential negative effects on mental well-being. Parents should focus on fostering self-efficacy and providing a nurturing environment that prioritizes love and the development of life skills, such as through assigning chores. It is important to recognize that success and happiness can be achieved in a variety of educational settings, and parents should support their children's individual paths rather than obsessing over prestigious college admissions. Ultimately, parents should aim to support their children in becoming their authentic selves, rather than molding them into an idealized version of success.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker critiques the harmful consequences of overparenting, which leads to children living a narrow, checklist-driven childhood.

  • Overemphasizing grades, achievements, and awards diminishes children's sense of autonomy and self-worth.

  • The speaker advocates for parents to prioritize love, chores, and providing a nourishing environment to promote self-efficacy and a broader sense of success.

Share This Summary 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on:

Explore More Summaries from TED 📚

Summarize YouTube Videos and Get Video Transcripts with 1-Click

Download browser extensions on: