Education Matters

Education matters

March 7 -13, 2018

Gulf Weekly Education matters

How long does it take for a child to be influenced by their parents? Some research shows that a growing child learns things such as sleeping patterns and daily routines from inside the womb and, of course, physically we can all see little bits of ourselves in our children’s facial features or movements.

But physical and pre-natal influences aside, how parents influence their children depends on exactly how much time they invest in both their physical and emotional development. For example, sometimes, just being physically present is not enough. A Harvard University study showed that parents that may be nearby but that are not emotionally invested or responsive tend to raise children that are more distressed and less engaged with their play or activities.

A further study investigating the connection between parent’s investment and children’s competence suggests that the emotional involvement of parents really does matter and affects the outcome of their child’s ability to both understand and regulate their emotions. 

Parents should keep this in mind when considering the quality of the time they spend with their children, because if they do not invest enough of their time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the evidence suggests that the child will potentially struggle to learn important life skills such as interacting with others appropriately.

But the concept of parent / child interaction and influence goes even further since children learn exponentially from what their parents do as much as what they say, (the child of an alcoholic, for example, is statistically more likely to turn to substance abuse in adult life) and the example, therefore, that we set them, is of paramount importance.

It’s very rare to be able to pinpoint the exact moment in which a child’s behaviour patterns change for the worse as a result of their parents actions, but recently I heard of someone who witnessed this first hand. 

A particularly unpleasant parent who had a habit of screaming at teachers and demonstrating all sorts of brattish behaviour whenever anything regarding her child’s school life was discussed, (a broken pencil case or a missing school tie, for example) took particular offence when her son’s test results dipped.

Rather than taking the necessary steps of discussing whether her child understood the work or was having problems at school she decided to blame the school entirely and with test paper in one hand and said child in the other she marched into the coordinator’s office, slammed the exam paper on the desk and began screaming in characteristic fashion at both the teacher and coordinator herself. 

This delightful lady blamed the school, the teachers and even their nationalities without once thinking that a pair of young eyes was watching everything that she did and a young brain was deciphering her actions and deciding that screaming, shouting and blaming everyone-else must be the right way to go in life because it certainly got a reaction.

From the moment the woman’s hand slapped the test paper on to the desk, her son’s behaviour changed for the worse and has continued in that vein ever since. 

If the boy does not get his own way, he screams and shouts at everybody and tells them that they don’t know what they are doing. Ominously, he is showing racist tendencies too.

This is perhaps an extreme example, but it is something that teachers and head teachers do experience in their careers from time-to-time and it certainly draws attention to the importance of thinking before acting when children are nearby.


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