child-1073638_1280A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the planned parents strike over the SATs tests. The strike effectively meant that they would keep their children at home for one day instead of sending them to school. Since then the protest has taken place and I listened to many news items that featured comments from parents about why they were keeping their children out of school that day.

My last blog on this subject ended with the question: Are the parent’s beliefs limiting their children’s growth?

 I have to say after listening to many parents speaking on the subject – categorically yes they are!

School children are being deprived as their parents want to make a stand – I’m not saying parents should not be upset or have a view on their children’s education, but they need to recognise that their own upset and beliefs on this issue are their own model of the world. What they say now about it is impacting on how their child sees the issue now, and will continue to do so long into their future.

What lasting impression are parents giving their children on this important subject?

For example, I heard and watched a mother talking on the TV about the tests. The reporter asked her why she was making this protest. Her response was “Because tests are stressful …” and her three children were with her, all her children heard her say this! Now those children are all going to grow up believing ALL tests are stressful – how is that going to serve them as they go through life? What’s more, you could see how the language the mother was using was impacting immediately on the children while the words were being discharged.

I want to be really clear on this point – and let’s take the example above, it may well be a fact that the way some tests are structured and delivered is not done in a way that brings out the best in people. This can be said about many issues we will face in our lifetime, the issue is not the event but how we approach and experience it. Our children are going to encounter challenging and difficult issues and circumstances in their lives. Having the most positive attitude is not going to stop certain things happening – so what do we want to do?

We have a choice: Arm our children with a ‘can do’ attitude and resilience so they experience the event with as little difficulty or hurt as is possible. Or teach them to be a victim of their circumstances with no control over it and a defeatist attitude to the stresses of life. Which would you choose?

After listening to the vast majority of comments it saddens me to think that the latter seems to be the order of the day. While we may think the SATs tests are wrong and cause unnecessary stress on our children, do we want to give this thought to our children? I don’t think so – whatever we may think we have to understand it is our view and we should endeavour to give our children the very best options available to them. After all, our children do not know what stress is until they are told. Our children LEARN emotions and behaviour states from the adults that influence them. By the time a child is seven they have formed their values and beliefs from the life experiences and they continue to form their opinions through to their early teens – often the values and beliefs formed at this point stay with them for life.

Just think about that for a moment. The values and beliefs a child forms are taken from their life experiences and the people that influence them at that age: parents, siblings, teachers etc. These values and beliefs often stay with them for life. So, something you say and do to and with your child before the age of twelve is more likely to influence how they grow up and what they do with their lives.

That is why I made the point about the parent commenting that all tests were stressful. It is no exaggeration to say she has now set that up for her child to experience exactly that as they are growing up. Is that what she actually wanted for her children – to be stressful at every time they get tested? How will that help the children to do their GCSEs? How will they get on learning to drive or doing an apprenticeship or trying out a new skill?

It is SO important that we are mindful of what we say to our children and ensure we don’t dump all our own experiences onto them. Especially when you consider that many of your values and beliefs were created by the time you were twelve years old. So how out of date are they now?

The SATs tests are an emotive subject, but we should be very clear not to influence how our children experience them. By all means, make valid points known to those people who are in a position to be able to make changes to the system. By all means, strive to give your children the best education they can get. By all means, have an opinion – but by any means, ensure you set your children up for positive experiences. Encourage them to do their best and put their attention on what is right and helpful. That also means that if they do encounter challenges in the future they are much better equipped to deal with them because of the, “can do” attitude you helped create.

If you’d like to know more about how we can influence and create better experiences through language, then get in touch to hear more.