Parents: Want Kids to Get Better Grades? Teach Virtue

According to a new study, the virtue of conscientiousness is the only personality trait out of the five building blocks of personality (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism)  that is positively correlated with academic success.  The higher a person’s score on tests of conscientiousness, the higher that person’s GPA is likely to be.

It isn’t enough to just sit on kids to make them do their homework.  The Church teaches that families are schools of love and virtue that enable us to learn all the lessons that help us live life as a gift.  Conscientiousness is one of those virtues that parents need to cultivate in their kids if they want to encourage good study habits and better grades.  Conscientiousness is defined as the ability to plan ahead, be attentive, and pay attention to details.

In addition to focusing on study habits, encouraging kids to follow through on chores, to do a good job with whatever task they’re given, and to think and plan ahead (for example, by asking them to walk you through their plans for getting things done instead of just telling them what to do) are great ways to help your kids do better in school because all of these–and activities like them–tend to cultivate conscientiousness.

–For more tips on raising great Catholic kids, check out



About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit

  • Kim Cameron-Smith

    Thank you for this post, Dr. Greg. It seems to get cut off at the end, though . . .

    I would like to add a thought. I love the idea of virtue training within parenting because it helps us focus on the kind of people we want our children to be, rather than on what they do. I think it’s important that children know that they possess immeasurable dignity and value not because of anything they do but because they are children of God, made in his image, capable of self-giving love. Virtue training helps them become the loving, joyful people God wants them to be. I think getting better grades is super important, but we want our kids to know that we love them and accept them even if their prudent, industrious efforts at studying dont’ result in good grades. Heck, we need to make sure they know we love them even if they’re lazy and resist the virtue of industry!