Parenting Principle #5: Believe in your kids
It can be disappointing and frustrating when kids don’t meet the expectations you’ve set out for them based on your values. When the same mistake is repeated over and over again, you may begin to lose hope. It’s natural to begin thinking of your child in a less positive light.
For example, if your child continuously does poorly in school, you may begin to think of her as a poor student. It may be true that your child struggles frequently. However, when you begin to think of her as a bad student, she will see herself that way, too.
Treating her like he’s going to fail or have another bad semester will often be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Treating your child as though she has already failed is not likely to lead to success.
A Self-fulfilling Prophecy
There was once a study done at a school where teachers were given two different groups of students:
- The teachers were told that Group A was a group of bad influences and students who struggle. Unbeknownst to the teachers, this group was actually comprised of high-achievers.
- Group B was said to be a group of outstanding students with good behavior. In fact, the opposite was true.
The study found that teachers treated these groups of students differently. Teachers treated these students according to their beliefs about how successful these students were going to be.
As a result, the previously high-performing students in Group A began having behavioral issues and doing poorly in school. The previously less-successful students began performing better in school and earning better grades.
As you can see from the study, making assumptions about the potential of children causes their behavior to change.
Even though they are not specifically told, “You’re not well-behaved,” children will pick up on the ways that you treat them according to this belief. Over time, they’ll begin believing this themselves and will begin to act out even more.
For your best results, use these strategies to show support
- Remember that if you begin to doubt your child, she will begin to doubt herself. Though it may sometimes seem hopeless, staying optimistic will encourage your child to keep trying. When you give up, your kid does, too.
- Set high expectations and pay attention to the outcome. When your child is struggling through a mistake, help her identify his situation and think positively about solutions. Encourage conversations about other possible outcomes and goals.
- Lead by example. When you show your child that you believe in yourself, she will learn what it looks like to persevere through difficulty.
Your Child is Capable
Children are observant and curious. They’re capable of learning great new things everyday, and they do. When they sense what you feel about them, they’re more likely to perform according to your predictions.
Let your child explore new things and learn as they go. Perhaps your child has a large interest in soccer. Despite his love of the sport, she may trip over the ball in every game. Instead of encouraging her to give up, show her that you believe in his ability to develop greater skills in something she is dedicated to.
Instead of shaming her when she doesn’t make that game-winning goal, you can instead encourage her to keep practicing. This will show her that you believe her. It will motivate her to continue making an effort.
This will be a valuable skill later in life when difficulties arise. Instead of retreating while approaching hurdles, your child will learn to approach them with courage. With willingness to work through struggle, anything is possible.
As children grow and evolve, their optimism will grow in proportion to your belief in their success. Though it isn’t always easy to maintain a positive spirit in times of difficulty, an effort must be made to move forward with hope.
When you believe in the potential of your child, she will, too. This positive thinking benefits gratitude. And, gratitude increases positive thinking. There is no replacement for a strong daily practice of gratitude.