When I was in high school, I met one of the greatest teachers in my life. She is great not because she makes lessons fun or because she is extremely kind to pupils. She is great because she always gets her students to be more excited about learning tomorrow than they are today. And she does so by simply believing in her students, unconditionally.
I was a naughty child back in high school, constantly breaking the rules. Yet for some strange reason, this teacher always saw the goodness in me. She always believed that I would do her proud – and that’s exactly what I did. I scored the highest marks in the whole school upon graduation; I secured my scholarship from high school all the way through college. I did exactly what she believed I was capable of doing. She simply believed, unconditionally.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
The Trust Dynamic
In my research project and soon-to-be-published book “Motivation DynamicsTM“, I highlighted 42 powerful basic motivational drivers that are particularly relevant to children. On top of the list is the “Trust Dynamic” – a powerful motivational driver when one person believes in another unconditionally. To trust someone, by definition, is to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of that person. There is nothing more powerful than believing in someone unconditionally, and one who has been bestowed such trust tends to behave in a manner consistent with that belief. Why? Because deep down, every human being craves love and respect as a primary emotional and behavioral instinct – and trust is the ultimate form of unconditional love and respect. This very powerful force of nature is particularly influential to children because they are at the most vulnerable and tender stage of life.
Though this is a simple concept to grasp, we tend to do exactly the opposite when it comes to our loved ones. We often see parents nagging at their children and pushing them to be the perfect child. No doubt they love their children, but this very act of trying to change someone gives out a strong signal of disbelief – thus violating the law of Trust Dynamic. Instead of unconditionally believing in their child, they have chosen a more definite approach of shaping their child’s future. This approach has its merits, but it can never be as strong as the power brought by unconditional love and believing.
How Disbelief Affects Your Child
This form of subconscious disbelief creates a negative effect, opposite to what parents have expected. Through parents’ nagging and act of disbelief in their child, another self is created in the child’s mind – a self that is weak, deficient and inferior. And trust me, nobody likes that version of the self. Therefore, whenever the children are reminded of their inferior self, they will feel resentment. Why is this happening? It has to do with how our “old brain” (our evolutionary memory) works. Having evolved over millions of years, our old brain is the primary connector to our inner core and decision-making processes. Reason, rationale and common sense are built later in our evolutionary history, thus residing in our “new brain”. Hence, we see the lack of love and respect first before understanding the rationale of someone’s actions.
However, most children cannot make the emotional interpretation and as a result feel detachment from their parents’ nagging and criticism. The Trust Dynamic has been broken. The scary part is that it takes only isolated actions to break the Trust Dynamic, but it takes consistent and long-term reconstruction effort to build up the trust level again. For many children, the Trust Dynamic has been broken beyond repair at a very young age.
A few months back, I witnessed a parent who was tutoring her son at our KooBits display booth, trying to help her child complete some exercise questions. Whenever her son was about to choose an answer, she would start teaching and lecturing. She didn’t trust her son to choose the right answer. Guess what? Her son couldn’t do it. He got stuck at almost every question. And whenever he tried to come up with something, his mother intervened. There goes the vicious cycle.
There is an old saying that goes: “Work on your strength, and your weakness will take care of itself.”
Focus on your child’s strength. Believe in your child, unconditionally.