Parents place more emphasis on their children being honest and kind than anything else, according to research

By Richard Jenkins
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 5:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 5:07 pm

A study of 1,000 mums and dads of children aged up to seven revealed the key attributes they’d most like their youngsters to develop as they grow up - with honesty, good manners and self-confidence coming out on top.

A quarter aspire for their offspring to have a good comprehension of emotions, while half would like their children to learn the art of 'being kind to others'.

Loyalty, patience, and optimism were also among the traits to feature in the top 20 list parents hope their children will develop.

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In fact, 79 per cent felt it's more important their little ones grow up with a good group of friends, than aspiring to be the next Prime Minister.

Claudia Caron, from Thomas & Friends, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s really heart-warming to see how many mums and dads want their child to grow up being kind, honest and independent, over other traits.

“It just goes to show that these attributes many take for granted aren’t a given and are something people want to encourage their little ones to have."

Preparing for adult life

The study also found, for 47 per cent of those polled, it’s important their offspring has these attributes, with 58 per cent believing it will set them up well for later life.

It also emerged nurture trumps nature for 63 per cent of mums and dads, as they admit to actively doing things to teach their children these important characteristics.

While a quarter think soft skills, such as initiative and organisation, are much more important for children to learn at a young age compared to hard skills, such as reading and writing.

Books for their children, reading books to educate themselves, and sending their child to extra-curricular activities are among some of the ways parents are shaping their youngsters for the future.

Parents will also sit down for story time more than four times a week, with 89 per cent acknowledging the importance of reading stories to their children.

While a further 74 per cent also recognise the impact TV shows can have when it comes to influencing and shaping children into the adults they will one day become.

The research was conducted via OnePoll by Thomas & Friends to launch its new campaign, Reading with Little Friends, which sees the brand team up with celebrity dads - singer and musician, Harry Judd, and reality TV star, Greg Shepherd.

In two adorable videos Harry’s children, Lola, 5, and Kit, 4, as well as Greg’s two kids, eldest Nelly, 8, and Arthur, 4, snuggle onto the sofa with their dads for some quality family reading time together.

Influencing children

The study also found three-quarters of parents feel they, or primary caregivers, are the most influential people when it comes to the development of a child’s personality, with teachers and friends also having a significant impact.

Yet nearly two-thirds believed they could try harder to encourage valuable characteristics within their offspring.

The words of wisdom mums and dads would want to impart on their little ones to help them achieve their goals in life, including “treat people as you’d want to be treated”.

While 44 per cent would advise their youngster to “admit their mistakes”, while four in 10 would recommend that “good communication is important.”

Claudia Caron from Thomas & Friends added: “There are plenty of things parents do to try and encourage these skills – and there is no right or wrong answer.

“It’s just reassuring to see how parents feel enthusiastic about taking it into their own hands by reading to them, encouraging particular activities and just generally surrounding them with positive influence.

“Books are a lovely way to share intimate moments with your children, as well as choosing stories with good morals and learning such as those found in Thomas & Friends.”

Mcfly star Harry Judd said: “We had loads of fun filming the videos and I’m really proud of Lola for her reading – and of Kit, for managing to stay still for the whole story.

"I’ve always been a fan of Thomas & Friends and really love how the stories are fun as well as teaching morals about being kind, helpful and working as a team - all things I’m constantly trying to teach the kids.”

Greg Shepherd, who appears with Nelly, Arthur and his wife Billie in ITV’s popular reality show The Family Diaries, said: “Some of the life lessons I think are really important that I’d like to teach my kids are, having a good group of friends when they are growing up, knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, and having good manners.”

Top 20 attributes parents want their children to have 

1.            Honesty

2.            Kindness

3.            Self-confidence

4.            Good manners

5.            Self-esteem

6.            Independence

7.            Empathy

8.            Helping others

9.            Patience

10.          Loyalty

11.          Determination

12.          Resilience

13.          Motivation

14.          Ability to communicate effectively

15.          Understanding emotions

16.          Being able to build strong friendships

17.          Respectful of rules

18.          Optimism

19.          Willing to try new experiences

20.          Ability to share