Curb your disgust. It might lead to your child’s low confidence. Findings from an experimental study from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) show that your reactions can influence the way your child responds, too.
The study – the first of its kind in the world – found that an adult’s negative reactions to situations affect children’s motivation and confidence levels adversely. Conversely, levels improve slightly when an adult responds positively.
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Led by Assistant Professor Qu Li from the psychology division at NTU, the study involved 81 pre-schoolers aged five and six. It is the first study of its Nanyang Technological University’s kind to manipulate scenarios to elicit reactions from children. Previous studies in this field used surveys and interviews.
Prof Qu said the findings shed light on how parents, caregivers and teachers can better react to daily situations in front of young children, particularly in times of stress.
The pre-school age is when children are developing most rapidly in self-regulation, which refers to processes such as making decisions, solving problems and regulating emotions and behaviour, she said.
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Repeated experiences of adult positivity or negativity can have long-lasting effects in a child’s life in terms of behaviour, cognitive abilities and control of emotions, she added. “Adults can influence children’s immediate response to a situation… and subsequent situations.”
Parents themselves have to be more positive, flexible and creative in dealing with difficult situations, so that children can think beyond the current moment, she added.
It is important for parents to help children cope with problems in a better way, she said. “How they deal with daily hassles when they are young can influence how they deal with stress when they are older.”