September 17th, 2012
The kids are back at school now and some of you ultra-organised ones may have turned your minds to Christmas already. Don’t worry if you haven’t –there will be more on that in our next newsletter. Others may be focused on your child just having started a new school or a new year with a new teacher and will be wondering how to support your child to do the best they can do.
In a recent article in the Telegraph (7th August 2012)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9458290/Teaching-toddlers-to-pay-attention-is-the-key-to-academic-success.html# reference was made to recent research by child development experts which concludes that it is not tutoring in academic subjects that will help your child to succeed but supporting them to pay attention and to perservere. This particular research by Dr Megan McClelland from Oregon State University, published in the online journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly, reflects what the Gottman Institute had noticed as part of their research on developing emotional intelligence. Drs John and Julie Gottman found that children whose parents are emotion coaches for them, that is they recognise, respect and respond to their child’s emotions:
Author (and champion table tennis player) Matthew Syed, in his best-selling book Bounce, explores the idea that innate talent (whether in academic, musical, business or sporting fields) is a myth and that all the best performers in their various areas of endeavour have got to the top of their fields by a combination of opportunity, application and focus. (He does concede that it helps to be a tall if you’re a basketballer).
Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University’s research into mindsets is particularly interesting for parents. She developed the thesis that people can have different attitudes to learning which either promote or inhibit their development. With a fixed mindset one believes that one has a fixed amount of innate intelligence and that if you can’t do something it means that you have exhausted your store of intelligence. A person who has this attitude will not want to challenge the status associated with his cleverness and will not take risks that will show him to be less intelligent. Her research showed that children would not tackle harder tasks when in this fixed mindset. By contrast people with a growth mindset believe that they can with effort get better at anything and therefore are willing to try new and harder things.
A child’s mindset is affected by how adults talk to them. When we praise a child for cleverness or talent and when we focus on their results we promote a fixed mindset. However when adults praise kids for the effort they make, the attitudes they show, the strategies they employ; when we focus more on the process than the outcome we encourage in them a growth mindset. So don’t praise your child for being clever and don’t let your first question after a football game be did you win?
Parents often ask us, in classes or consultations, how to help children to focus more. Here is what we say:
So be focused on developing good habits of focus and perseverance in your child to help them do well in life.
May 21st, 2010
Woman’s Hour hosted an interesting discussion about smacking children this week, to listen please visit: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s8hyy
The debate about smacking children on Womans Hour was represented very well by the two guests and their comments showed how polarised the thinking is on this subject.
I founded The Parent Practice ten years ago and am familiar with the different views of many parents on the subject of smacking children. Overwhelmingly it seems that when parents smack their children they do so, not in a controlled way to discipline them, but because the parent is overwhelmed by an emotion, perhaps fear as in the example given in the programme when a child runs into the street, or out of anger or frustration. The child knows the parent has lost it and we are in danger of losing our children’s respect if we discipline in this way.
There is no doubt at all that discipline is necessary but the point of any method of discipline is to teach and smacking is the least effective of all the tools at our disposal if we want to teach. Our children are not so open to learning if they are shocked and hurting. We are in danger of teaching them something we don’t intend if we use smacking, that is that when you are an adult you can use your power to hurt, that you can resolve conflict or get your way by hurting. That is not what parents intend when they smack and I would never make a parent wrong for smacking but I think parents need to be supported in the difficult job of raising children by giving them tools other than smacking.