I was reading this article today from the Huffington post, and it further serves to remind us of how powerful our minds are, especially to suggestion. Heidi Halvorson, Ph.D. writes to the power of girls underachieving, regardless of how bright they are, due to the messages they receive from the adults in their lives.
“… Chances are good that if you are a successful professional today, you were a pretty bright fifth grade girl. My graduate advisor, psychologist Carol Dweck (author of “Mindset”) conducted a series of studies in the 1980s, looking at how Bright Girls and boys in the fifth grade handled new, difficult and confusing material.
She found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts rather than give up.
Why does this happen? What makes smart girls more vulnerable and less confident when they should be the most confident kids in the room? At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty — what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright Girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence and to become less effective learners as a result…”
One more step for me to understand that there is a direct correlation between how I talk to both my children and the influence it WILL have on their behaviors. I have noticed that as we have toned down our reactions with our son, (now instead of admonishing and punishing when he shows detrimental behavior we simply address it as calmly as possible and move on), he has become noticeably calmer and more controlled himself. Who would have thought such a simple strategy was so important. Now of course we got through this 7,000 times a day, so the behaviors are still shining through, but I am calmer and his rants and rages are diminished. No longer do I have to endure his hour long anger, or hyperactive rants, its all over in minutes. I again, come back to the model that Heather T. Forbes preaches, stress tolerance. The lower the stress tolerance the better the behavior. The more positive influence you have, the more positive the child feels, which in the end means better behavior.
I have to remember to make what I say be something that they can use to better themselves, not stagnate or worse, slip further backwards. Not easy to remember in the heat of the moment, and there is never a dull moment in our house, but I can certainly say I will never be accused of taking my kids for granted or using them as accessories! 🙂