Nalini Joseph: How do you measure your child’s success?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 21, 2021

By Nalini Joseph

Best practices. Code of conduct. Operations manual. Office procedures. Do these phrases sound familiar? 

If so, that’s because you have worked in a place where job expectations are laid out in black and white. Those of us who work for a company or organization know that we can refer to our office manuals for guidance and instruction. The policies and procedures may appear rigid, but the rules are written out so that there is little variance and interpretation in the codes of conduct. In many companies, leaders and bosses measure success by adherence to a job description and company policies and procedures.

But is there more to measuring success than strict adherence to written guidelines? Of course there is. Employee practices that involve the use of soft skills, tactful written and verbal communication and positive, helpful attitude all have an impact on how supervisors grade their employees.     

Similarly, your child will be measured on a success scale once they are out of your home and thrust into the world of college or career. As your child grows, you inculcate many of your own spoken and explicit mores, procedures and attitudes within your child. You also have countless unspoken rules and values that you ingrain in your child. It is often these unspoken and assumed rules, values and attitudes that set your child on a path to success. It’s not just the straight A’s that land a youngster into an Ivy League school or other prestigious university. 

Good grades are of course essential, but the student who presents with some character trait that is special or out of the ordinary is often sought after by these higher institutions of learning.  These special character traits are encouraged and instilled within a child at an early age. Psychologists who study personality tend to agree that although an individual’s personality is always developing, the main features of a personality are formed somewhere around the age of 2 and a personality truly begins to emerge around the age of 3, 4 or 5.  

As parents, we must think about how we can mold and fashion our very young so that they are successful children and then go on to be successful adults. Is your child gregarious? Is she a charmer? Think about how to channel this personality trait so that your child uses their charm to positively manipulate and influence others through politics or organizational leadership. Is your child one who enjoys playing by himself. Does he appear completely focused on certain games and activities for inordinate lengths of time? This is a child who may do very well in law or medical school, as undistracted reading and studying are a huge requirement for these professions. 

Success is a combination of excellence in academics as well as the display of what we term as soft skills: the skills that have their roots in the attitudes and values that you have taught and modeled for your child.  

Measuring success is difficult. Why did one youth with perfect grades and an application filled with myriad  extracurricular activities not get admitted into an Ivy League school while another child, also with perfect grades but fewer extracurriculars, get into that same institution? My information and experience tell me that decision makers, namely college admissions personnel and hiring agents or leaders in companies, look carefully at personality. Yes, test scores, grades and involvement in the community matter. However, an individual who is well-grounded in their strengths and who is confident in their unique personality will typically have a better chance of impressing a potential employer or a college admissions team. 

Your child whose personality is well developed and whose character foundation is firm in a solid value system is destined for greatness!        

Joseph is a resident of Salisbury. She is the proud mother of 10-year-old honor-roll student, Rohan Joseph, who serves his community as president of COVID Busters. Email her at