Children with Skill

Hello and welcome to Dead Easy Life (DEL). My hope is that DEL will be a place to discuss varied topics such as ethics, parenting, economics, and philosophy and, as a result of this discussion, help us live better lives.

As a jumping off point, I’d like to talk about how we want to be and what qualities we wish to possess to be our best. These traits will be important to our coming discussions.

Many, including Aristotle, would name happiness as an end in itself but I see it as just one of many qualities that can help us live better lives.

From my experience, and from research on the subject (references: Paul, Panksepp, Siegel, Gottman, Brandon, Miller, Shedler, Molyneux, Kahneman, Morin, Freud, Aristotle, Damasio*), I've compiled a list of 10 qualities that are associated with successful living. I refer to the following as qualities, traits and attributes interchangeably.

  1. Consciousness
  2. Happiness 
  3. Individuation
  4. Loving
  5. Decisiveness
  6. Rationality
  7. Empathy
  8. Non Aggression
  9. Self Knowledge
  10. Individually Led Learner

Since it’s no fun to memorize lists, I’ve got an acronym, or more accurately, a backronym, to help you to remember the 10 qualities. The first letters spell out: CHILDREN with SKILL. These qualities are not just for parents, but for all of us to keep in mind and develop in ourselves. We stress the word children because the foundations for these personality characteristics are formed in childhood and largely before the age of four.

You may notice that many of the traits I’ve listed are social skills. In fact, one of the reasons we humans have such large brains is for social reasons. Interpersonal skills are clearly important for adults but are especially key for children. Social skills are some of the most important indicators in the future success of children*.

I’ll expand on each trait from the list here:

1) Consciousness: Being aware and thinking clearly. In control of that time between stimulus and response. In touch with ones mind and emotions. Thinking imaginatively and creatively. Having a knowledge of right and wrong (conscience).

2) Happiness: Having a state of well-being in the world, feeling good and content. Enjoyment of others as well as being alone. A sense of fun, playfulness. Taking pleasure in humor.

3) Individuation: A desire for freedom to be oneself. Able to set boundaries. In control of ones actions and emotions. Acting with honesty and integrity.

4) Loving: Able to be loved. Able to experience, understand and appreciate love.

5) Decisiveness: Clearly assessing risks and rewards of behavior then making productive decisions. Courageous, acting on one's convictions even if unpopular.

6) Rationality: Applying consistent standards to one’s thought and behavior. Understanding one’s scope of control and acting honestly and consistently.

7) Empathy: Able to see, feel, and sense things from another person’s point of view. Sensitive and responsive to another’s needs and feelings and empathetic of one’s own. Able to form close and lasting empathetic friendships.

8) Non Aggression: Handling circumstances fairly and never initiating force. Not yelling, using physical threats nor exerting of undue influence in an aggressive manner.

9) Self Knowledge: Able to understand one's own nature, abilities, and limitations. Able to assess how one is compared with how one wants to be. Able to hear information that is emotionally challenging and use it to come to terms with painful experiences from the past.

10) Individually Led Learner: Appreciating one’s own curiosity. Wanting to master new skills and practice existing ones. Feeling the elation of accomplishment and not being defeated by failures. Learning from mistakes.

So, there is an introduction to Children with Skill. This list has been compiled from research in the varied fields of psychology, neuroscience, economics, evolutionary biology, philosophy, critical thinking, life coaching and anthropology that link these traits to successful individuals and societies. Having an understanding of these precursors of success is like having a road map for success in your own life.

As you can see, there are many qualities here to master. In coming posts we’ll discuss how you can support these characteristics in yourself and how parents can provide this type of environment for children.

Do you agree with this list? How do you embody these traits? I would love to hear your feedback.

Feel free to email me anytime at

* Check out the research section for further reading.