Nobody is ever ready to have a child, but when you do, it’s very important to understand the psychological nuances in raising one. A lot of care and thought must be put into raising a child because their behaviour for the rest of their life is very much based on their childhood development.
So, here are just a two you get you started:
Praise effort over achievements
It is common knowledge that most Asian parents highly prize the achievements of their child (academic, musical, etc.). These achievements are also sometimes used as a yardstick to compare their kids’ achievements with their peers’.
While this may appear to be healthy as a form of competition, it also frames the child’s self-esteem towards external motivations (i.e. achievements).
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and best-selling author of the book Mindset, advocated that it is crucial for parents to praise a child’s efforts over their achievements.
Her research paper found that rewarding children for their efforts would increase their motivation to thrive for better.
The rationale behind this is twofold:
- Achievements (in many cases) cannot be complete controlled by the individual. For example, if you trained day and night for a swimming competition and came in second place, then external factors like water getting into your goggles could’ve been the cause.
There are a lot of things outside of our control.
You can direct the best film on Earth and still get rejected by the Oscars.
- Effort is the only variable you have control over.
The parents who always applaud their kids by saying “As long as you do your best, it’s fine,” are onto something.
On a deeper level, the child is responsible for his or her level of effort.
By praising the child for their effort, what they hear is “The more I work, the more I am valued.” Wouldn’t that be better than “The more awards I get, the more I am valued?”
In short, effort is within the child’s control – achievement isn’t.
What beliefs are you leaving your child with after an interaction?
Morty Lefkoe of the Lefkoe Method wrote a piece on the Huffington Post that’s very worth reading. He talked about the hidden message we leave behind with our children based on our interactions.
For example, if we train our kids to drop everything and be at the table for dinner in seconds it may signal to them that what they want doesn’t matter, and their decisions and opinions aren’t important. Even during instances where parents dislike being questioned by their children and tell their kids to just do as they say, that might signal them to think that the only way for people to accept them is only for others to be happy.
The consequences are many: Among the gravest is the lack of self-esteem. It is no surprise that those with lower self-esteem because of their upbringing may give in to peer pressure at a very early age, playing a passive role in life and never expressing their opinions when it is truly needed.
To quote Morty:
“What is my child likely to conclude about him or herself and life as a result of this interaction we just had? If it is a positive belief, congratulations! You got your job done. If it is a negative one, go back, apologize, and clean it up.”
A lot of the social anxieties we face today are shaped by the subconscious models we have about reality. With these two tips, we can go further when it comes to our children’s development.