Lazy Parenting Hack - SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY
I think this idea was first brought to my attention during one of the many parent ed sessions I participated in as a parent of 4 children who went to a play-based, parent participation preschool. For those that don’t know, typically a PPP program has requirements that go along with enrolment. For me that included being a member of the executive, volunteering in the classroom each month, and attending required evening classroom sessions.
The idea presented in this evening session was around the idea of character/personality development. We were asked “when you look at your child what is the first thing you see? What is the first word that comes to your mind?”
As a mom of little ones, words such as ‘messy’, ‘crazy’, ‘stubborn’, ‘talkative’ were a few that came to mind. The idea of self-fulfilling prophecy was presented as a way for us as parents to be mindful of the tags we assign to our children.
Self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP) is what happens when we use predictions at the start of something that affects our behavior in such a way that we make that prediction happen.
My many years of teaching, coaching and parenting have shown me the power of SFP in action over and over again! I have seen the results of both children and parents who have certain beliefs put upon them and then live either up or down to those opinions.
Why is this such a big deal? Saying to a child “I hated math in school and sucked at it too”, will almost guarantee that your child will do poorly in this subject. Changing the conversation from a young age to be “wow, that looks challenging, I can see how hard you are working on it. I admire your persistence” would do so much more for them.
Saying “you are so messy, you never clean up after yourself” could be turned into a statement that is more motivating and effective in helping instil habits. Saying “wow, you sure have been busy playing with so many things, let’s clean up so you don’t lose any of the pieces and so they are all there next time”.
The off-hand comments and statements we make around our children can have a huge impact on their young minds. Especially any negative/complaining ones they over-hear us saying when we don’t know they are around. It has been shown that these can have long lasting effects that we can’t even imagine at the time and that surely aren’t our intention.
I have also found it especially difficult to keep in check the projection of my own fears onto my children. To counter act that I have tried to be there for them, listening and teaching tools/strategies to help them handle a wide range of situations to help them become much stronger, adaptable and more confident than I was at their age. As they grow through teenage hood, remembering that they are their own person, and not just an extension of us is sometimes difficult!
Here are 5 tips to take with you:
Reach for positive words with children and help them to believe in themselves.
Help them see that ‘mistakes’ are part of the process and show them that their failures and resilience shown after are what matters most.
Have high expectations and celebrate their successes. Point out their strengths and show them how these things will help them in life.
Watch for moments when your children are “listening in” to you discuss them to others. Allow them to overhear you speak highly of them and “boast” about their strength of character.
Model the character and behaviors you want from your children. We are their biggest influence and they are always watching, learning from what we do rather than what we say.
And remember, SFP affects us as well. Remember to be kind and use positive language when talking to yourself! It truly does have a huge impact on your life.