More than we can imagine, adult behavior has a major influence on children’s development.
According to a study published in the Open Journal of Modern Linguistics in 2012, family contribution is extremely important in acquiring skills that are later necessary in adult life.
Researchers have shown that in primary school, having support from parents favors reading more than the child’s level of intelligence does. Thus, the behavior of adults, be they parents, educators, grandparents, friends or babysitters, can indirectly dictate how the child overcomes everyday challenges.
As early education is the basis for a harmonious development, here are some types of adult behavior that could negatively impact the learning process, both at kindergarten and at school.
Comparison and criticism decrease children’s motivation in the long run
We all remember the comparisons between us and classmates or friends that our parents made. Sometimes parents meetings at kindergarten or at school were centered precisely around these comparisons: “the most obedient child, the one with the best results etc…”. These comparisons are difficult to handle even for an adult, and for a child they will affect the quality of the learning process.
Cultivating an environment of perpetual competition will make the child feel that he will never be as good as others, and his motivation and enthusiasm will drop drastically.
“Avoiding comparison means avoiding feelings such as grief, oddness, envy, anger, feelings that limit children’s potential and their opportunities to grow,” says Valentina Secara, founder of the British Acorns kindergarten.
Over-protective behavior prevents children from developing independently
The so-called “helicopter parents” are those who are too quick to come to the child’s aid, thus preventing him from facing any kind of challenge.
Parental fears of mistakes will later reflect on the child’s dependency and low ability for decision-making. When facing a new task in the classroom, the child with over-protective parents will feel anxious and face difficulty in finding a good solution to simple problems. This type of behavior will later be replicated in his adult life.
Invalidation of the child’s feelings makes him distrustful
The need to belong is the third in the pyramid developed by Abraham Maslow, according to physiological security needs. When children express an emotion or personal experience, they seek understanding and validation first and foremost, not advice, personal opinions or corrections.
Invalidating a child’s feelings breeds a feeling of insecurity in their own resources and abilities, and their learning process will be characterized by doubt and anxiety.
Child neglect – the danger of modern families
Long days at the office, vacations spent answering emails and constantly checking the phone during playtime will make children seem invisible in their parent’s eyes. Because of that, they will try to draw attention through their actions, and the learning process will suffer.
Positive education, a model applied in Acorns Nursery, focuses on avoiding harmful behaviors in children’s development. This behaviour is replaced by enthusiasm, gentleness and mutual respect.
It will be the parent’s responsability to apply educational strategies outside the classroom, but implementing positive education methods both in the classroom and at home will surely bring extraordinary benefits.