In the movie The Horse Whisperer,‘ the main star Robert Robert plays a horse trainer who gently heals a traumatized horse and its little owner. He uses gentle vocal commands and calm body language to instill trust and belief that it is going to be okay. Under his quiet confident guidance, both the girl and animals bounce back and recover from their trauma.
Having a ‘positivity whisperer’ in our lives, particularly in childhood changes the course of our life trajectory.
Recently, Francis Elive, a mathematics teacher from Cardiff, UK has been dubbed ‘The Maths Whisperer,‘ His class of 30 pupils from predominantly underprivileged backgrounds got an A* grade in GCSE.
He earned the nickname due to his consistent success in leading his students to achieve high scores in this tough subject. What is his magic? It’s simple – he instills the belief that they have practiced the hardest maths that they have to ever face so why be scared of an exam?
It’s the belief that they absolutely can do it.
Without a doubt, children are influenced by the adults in their life, namely parents, teachers and persons of authority. A child’s internal view of himself and his capabilities develops in relation to the significant others in their lives.
If you were lucky you would have grown up with a ‘good enough primary object.’ Growing up we internalize our primary object/person and this unconsciously shapes and influences all our choices, relationships and ambitions. Supportive and loving relationships play a critical role is a child’s life success.
While negative and traumatizing experiences during childhood can be devastating as the monster study has proved.
Monster Study on Stuttering
The Monster Study was a was a psychological experiment conducted on 22 orphan children in 1939 at the University of Iowa.
Half of the children received positive speech therapy and were praised while the rest of the group were derided and told they were stutterers. The experiment lasted for only 6 months but the effects of this were astounding.
Those who actually had a stutter got better with the encouraging words; while those who did not have a stutter gradually lost confidence and were terrified of speaking due to the negative programming.
What’s worse, the effects of this negative programming lasted right into adulthood for these children. In 2003, some of the participants of the study sued the University of Iowa and won a £500,000 settlement for the damage and suffering inflicted by this monstrous experiment.
Though the experiment was highly unethical, it proves the impact adults have on the children in their care.
Parents The First Positivity Whisperers
As parents, we need to be aware your child is watching you. You are their role models. Resilence is learned through imitation. You cannot tell your child to chin up while you become a depressive mess in the face of any crisis.
How you interpret a situation and how you react and respond to any challenge is the blueprint you lay down for your child. If they see a parent reacting with a defeatist attitude, a child automatically imbibes this response. He believes life cannot be tackled.
Even in difficult times as a parent, we can give our kids is the gift of positivity. Instill the hope that things will get better and we will overcome this difficult period.
Children Imitate Parents
What do you do when things don’t go your way, do you become sad, depressed, dejected, angry, raging or blame the world for your misfortune. Or do you acknowledge the setback as temporary and find ways to handle the situation.
Have no doubt children imitate parents through the process of mirroring and imbibing. They watch, they assimilate and thus they become.
Seeing how our parents behave during a crisis or difficulty becomes the inner voice within us. Never give up till you have breath in your body or give up wait for death becomes their guiding compass.
No child is born with a ‘how to do manual programmed’ in their little brain. Parents and other significant adults are the reference point for any of a child’s actions.
My mother even though she was very ill with cancer continued doing things she liked. I never saw her lamenting her fate. That was the last image I have of my mother, living each day with courage and conviction.
Every time I want to resign and give up, the image of my mother comes to my mind, it’s her memory of grit and fortitude that keeps me trudging on.
Life doesn’t always go as planned. How parents deal with the curve-balls thrown at them has a lasting impression on own capabilities. How Mom or Dad dealt with those tough times, did they fold up or bounce back.
Paying Attention To Our Talk
Most parents look at their kids as unintelligent beings. Instead of engaging them in an equal conversation they usually talk down to them. We criticize our kids, compare them to their sibling, we threaten them in submission and slowly destroy their innate uniqueness. How can they become a self-reliant and confident human being when they are filled with self-doubt.
One of the most important parenting skills is listening to your child. Do you validate your child’s feelings or brush them aside as silly, stupid or inconsequential?
If we don’t pay attention when they are kids, they will look for validation elsewhere – street gangs and terror groups. Delinquents, school shooters, and jihadists don’t just happen overnight.
They are the product of a lack of positive role models in their life. Their lives were devoid of encouragement and loving support. They thus turn to external sources for gratification
A child will listen only when they feel deep within that their parents, caregiver or teachers understand them. Truly listening to our kids gives them the message that we honor them as human beings. It is in this space of acceptance that their belief in themselves and their uniqueness blossoms.
Inspiration Comes In Many Forms
Children love stories particularly stories of success after overcoming difficult times or fighting against the evil villain, When they are young read them inspiring books with a positive message.
One great book is Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! to instill positivity and adventure in a child’s mind. Whether your child is 5 or 15 it says almost everything you would want to tell your child about their journey through life. With conscientious effort, they can steer themselves in any direction they choose.
Plan a movie night with your kids. Watching positive and inspiring movies with your children is a sure way to make the message of optimism and belief in overcoming the odds.
According to neurochemist Paul Zak, the human mind doesn’t make much distinction between encountering an experience in reality and reading or watching for entertainment.
“Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds. But in doing that, they change the way our brains work and potentially change our brain chemistry.”
Becoming A Positivity Whisperer
Life can be full of possibilities but sometimes we encounter roadblocks, diversions, and even failures. The key to success is the belief that one can overcome these temporary setbacks and get back to working towards our goal.
A child does not need someone to do things for him, rather someone who believes in his talents and dreams – a ‘positivity whisperer’ who shows their support with words and deeds.
Don’t deride or dissuade your child when he shares his plan to set up a lemonade stall to earn money, positive encouragement, peppered with some reality checks will help him in his endeavor. Win or fail laud his effort. Let him know that success comes to those who try.
Be like a horse whisperer, let your support be subtle but all-pervading. Instilling the belief that they can do whatever they set out to do, without overtly controlling things is one important parenting trick that will help a child succeed.