“I’ll do it later.”
This is a common phrase that should set any parent on edge. This catchphrase of procrastination often appears in the context of doing homework or revision, and usually leads to a high level of accumulated stress on the parts of both students and their parents as the students attempt to finish five assignments in under two hours.
Bearing this example in mind, it is evident that when it comes to academics, there are various factors which have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a student’s studying beyond the student’s existing content knowledge. In particular, the student’s attitude towards learning is one major area which can either greatly accelerate or strongly hinder a child’s studies.
However, it is a frustrating truth that teaching children to have a good learning attitude is an infuriatingly abstract notion; trying to drill the desirable values into children usually proves ineffective, and in some cases may even cause an undesirable backlash. How, then, can we help to develop a good attitude?
The answer to this quandary lies in the prospect of teaching by example. Children naturally look to their parents – the most accessible figures of authority – as a role model for life. When parents can develop and display a good working attitude, children will likely try to emulate it. Parents can leverage on this by using their actions to teach a child the importance of nurturing a desirable attitude.
However, the problem arises in how parents can do this. Their children do not accompany them to work; their children cannot observe how they conduct themselves in an office. Therefore, trying to be a role model for children can only be effective if the actions taken are highly visible to the children. To that end, in this article, we cover three things you can do to show your kids what constitutes a good working attitude.
1) Keeping promises
As a parent, by keeping promises you make to your children, they learn the importance of integrity and commitment. By keeping promises, they learn the importance of having the commitment to achieve their goals. By learning commitment, their studying will become slightly more self-directed. By learning commitment, they stave off the dangers of procrastination.
However, while the idea of keeping promises is a simple one, this is an action that often goes neglected due to that very simplicity. Keeping promises refers to all promises, not just the major ones. Keeping your promise to take your child to the zoo, while forgetting your offhand agreement to let them have ice cream after a meal teaches them that it is okay to be noncommittal in certain situations, which is an undesirable conclusion.
2) Setting Goals
Setting goals for oneself is an important life skill that greatly assists in revision: it grants direction to your child’s revision process, facilitating it and maximising its efficacy. Acting as a role model by showing your child how you set goals and achieve them can be a very effective way of encouraging them to set their own goals.
One way you can do this is to sit down with your child and set goals with them. This way, your child can see and understand your goal-setting process, and will have an impression of your expectations for them, providing an alternate source of motivation. However, this method has a number of flaws. Firstly, any goals set this way will likely align towards your expectations rather than your child’s, and therefore may not test them to their limit, or may be unachievable. Secondly, this method does not promote independent goal-setting.
Another method you can try is to demonstrate how you set goals and take steps to achieve them, and allow your children to learn from watching you. For instance, you could create a highly visible checklist of goals for household chores, making a show of ticking them off as you cleared each task. This method is slightly less reliable and might take longer to show results, but it also allows your child to develop an understanding of the importance of setting their own goals, in accordance with their self-evaluation of their abilities.
3) Willingness to learn
In education and society, it is important to display a willingness to accept one’s faults and learn from them. With this mindset, your child will spend less time agonising over a mistake, and spend more time learning how to rectify it. The best way to nurture this mindset is to embody it as a role model.
When you make a mistake of some kind, however minor, such as giving your child the wrong breakfast, apologise. Do not deflect the blame, or assume a self-righteous position. Instead, sincerely apologise. By doing so, you show your child that it is okay to make mistakes, but more importantly, you show that it is okay to acknowledge a mistake, which is the first step to correcting it.
By embodying and demonstrating this belief, your child will gradually learn to do the same, which will greatly benefit them in both school and later on in society.
Ultimately, parents are the first line of education; children generally respect them far more than any other adult and look to them for direction and guidance. By showing your children how to demonstrate a positive attitude towards work and learning, you grant them a role model to emulate, and therefore aid in their development of good learning attitude, which will in turn facilitate better, more effective studying.