A new school year has begun. To teachers, it means a new batch of students to mold and develop into productive citizens. To parents it means delegating some of your job to another adult for several hours a day.
It all revolves around training and guiding children to be successful.
A recent magazine article for dog fanciers shed some light on child training. Although the article was about canine training, several principles apply to child training as well.
The subtitle of the article, written by a psychology professor who also trains Australian shepherds, was, When it comes to training, you and your dog are what you think.
The author cited a study which was performed on humans. The results were fascinating.
In the study of children, teachers were told that specific students in their classrooms had high potential for academic success based on standardized tests.
Actually those children were just as average as those around them. To those conducting the study, however, amazing results occurred.
Those students who had been labeled as “having intellectual potential” showed great gains in the standardized tests which were administered a year later.
The children did not know they had been singled out for academic excellence; they simply responded to the teachers’ positive bias toward them.
In simple terms, expecting a child to perform well academically had actually produced children who did well.
Could this be transferred to parents in the day-to-day raising of our offspring?
If we expect our children to behave certain ways, they probably will. And if we invest time into training them for those fleeting years they are under our care, it will pay off.
We discovered this quite by accident. As a young mother I read to our children several times a day while feeding whoever was the baby at the time. They learned to sit still and listen for several minutes—which helped tremendously when we took them to church.
Another benefit was that two of our children taught themselves to read at age five. We expected them to love words—and they did!
While this is a simplistic illustration, might we also apply it to our jobs as parents/grandparents raising children to succeed as they grow?
Of course there are variables. Just wishing for something doesn’t make it happen. And not all children will be in the gifted class, nor should they be expected to perform as such.
The key is how we interact with children--emphasis on interaction.
To those parents who are willing to put down their cell phones and other technology and spend large amounts of time interacting with their children, the results will be worth the effort.
They’re only little once. Let’s give our children ourselves. Expect great things; receive great things.
What about you? Any thoughts on principles of child rearing? Don't forget to comment below.