THE BLOG
09/25/2013 10:28 pm ET | Updated Nov 25, 2013

The Habits of Highly Successful Families

Are you concerned because your daughter cries at every single one of her soccer games? Are you irritated because your son drags out his homework time with constant excuses? Have you given up altogether on trying to control your child's media use on the weekends?

School's back in session and so are a whole new crop of challenges for parents. Wouldn't it be helpful if parents were provided with concrete information on which routines and habits improved academic success, increased social skills and promoted emotional balance in children? That's the goal of The Learning Habit study, a massive interactive online survey.

Scientists developed the survey to offer parents a unique opportunity to see how their family routines and habits compare to the routines of others and to find out how they impact social, emotional and educational learning. It is not a passive survey; it's specifically designed to make parents really think about their involvement in their children's lives.

"When it comes to controlling my child's media use, I know I fall short and I feel guilty about that," said Kim, a mother from San Antonio, Texas who, along with hundreds of other parents, assisted researchers last spring by taking the survey during its beta testing and offering feedback.

Kim reported that just taking the survey actually alleviated some of her guilt; the fact that the questions were being asked indicated, to her, that she was not the only parent struggling with this issue.

There are so many factors in a child's life, so many influences that parents feel they neither control nor understand. The results of the study will be used to support parents in establishing habits and routines which help children to learn -- "learning habits."

The Learning Habit Study looks at a myriad of different factors, including parenting styles, academic achievement, emotional features, communication methods and family interactions. The goal is not to condemn media use or any particular parenting style, but rather to start a conversation about finding balance and see what those habits look like.

"I look around the bus stop at some of these children and wonder if their parents are doing something different then I am," said Danielle, from Franklin, Massachusetts, who also participated in the beta testing. "I'm very curious to see what the study finds."

Led by Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D., ABPP, the research team includes Allison Schettini Evans, Ph.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist at Brown University School of Medicine; Dr. Judith Owens M.D., MPH, from Children's National Medical Center; and Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, M.S.W., LICSW, Clinical Director of The New England Center for Pediatric Psychology and best-selling author of The Narcissistic Family.

"Learning involves distinct neurological processes which can be heavily influenced by the development of new habits," said Dr. Pressman.

The Learning Habit Study has partnered with some of the top media publications -- including The Huffington Post -- to reach millions of families, making it one of the richest research projects ever to look at the complex of influences and behaviors present in children's everyday lives.

Curious about the survey? Here's how it works: parents with children in grades K-12 are asked a series of questions about their child's age, grade, type of school (public, private, homeschooling) and typical behaviors. They are also asked some questions about themselves that relate to parenting style. For example, would they describe themselves as "flexible about rules and routines?"

At the end of the survey, parents can see how their answers to compare to those of other parents in several key areas. The entire survey takes approximately seven minutes and results are anonymous.

Findings will be presented at the August 2014 American Psychological Association convention in Washington, D.C., and in the book, The Learning Habit, published by Perigee, available August 2014.

Take our interactive survey and discover how your routines compare to those of others. Here's your chance to find out!

Click here to participate in the study and stay tuned for more information and results