Parent-child relationship and development of positive attitude in children towards life
Psychologists like Bowlby and Ainsworth who studied the infant’s early relationship with the parents, mother in particular, have given much emphasis on the secure or safe relationship experience of infant with its mother and the mental representations of its positive experiences of being cared, loved, wanted, and supported. They have explained in their theory on ‘attachment’ how these experiences play major role in the later development of a child’s personality.
Positive impact of family on children
During childhood, if a child received kindness, gentleness, warmth, emotional support, encouragement and compassion, then such children are more likely to be more confident, secure, happier and less vulnerable to physical and psychological health issues. These children when they grow up turn out to be more confident, risk-taking, happy, self-confident, positive, caring and respectful of others. When they receive or given such experiences, theyfeel safe and secure at home and school. They also perceive others as helpfuland kind rather than harmful. They feel the world as a safe place. Feeling confident and safe in the environment a child lives can improve its immune system and reduce the levels of stress.
Negative impact of family on Children
One of the major difficulties for children who come from families with lots of stress and tension is their inability to feel safe as they go through recurrent negative experiences. Some of the negative experiences that children go through in families include: harsh treatment by parents/ guardians that includes hurting remarks or scolding andbeating;belittling criticism; comparing their performance with other siblings or students; unrealistic expectations parents put on children—here the stress is on doing well all the time and getting good grades/ranks andoverprotective parenting—not allowing children the freedom to do things or make decisions that are specific to their age.Studies have shown that levels of stress hormones among such children can be quite high compared to children who come from loving and caring homes. It is argued that this occurs, because a child growing up in a threatening environment means that he or she needs a mental makeup that is going to be able to deal with threats. In this way a child develops a mind set for aggression or anxiety in the event of a perceived threat.
Positive emotions and student behaviours
We all conform to the well-known fact that experience of positive emotions serve as indicators of optimal well-being.As humans we feel safe when we have created positive feelings about us in the minds of people we relate with and that they care about us. According to Barbara Fredrickson’s the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions,certain distinct positive emotions—including joy, interest, contentment, pride, and love, help people build their long lasting physical, intellectual, social and psychological resources.For instance a student can extend his or her joy by creating the urge to play and be creative. Experientially distinct positive emotion like interest for instance, can be broadened by creating a strong desire toknow more about a topic or subject and increase one’s positive self-belief in the process.
Students who experience positive emotions can remain more attentive, understand concepts better and choose positive action. Not only that,they remain physically and intellectually strong and are able to build social skills. People experiencing positive emotions show patterns of thought that are notably divergent, creative, flexible, integrative, and open to information.
What parents need to be aware and do about it?
What parents have internalized through their early experiences from their families of origin, they often re-enact and foist them on their children. Thus at a very early age children are likely to develop a negative view about themselves, others and the society at large. Early experience of feelings safety, care, love, encouragement, spontaneity and validation help children develop positive emotions. On the other hand if children experience fear, insecurity then theylessen their spontaneity and aliveness. They are more likely to be emotionally inhibited and insecure.
Parents/ guardians will do less harm to children during their growing up stages, if they seek help to recognize and develop awareness of their internalised unhelpful pattern of thinking and behaving and heal themselves by taking professional help from a psychologist. Children who have been exposed to stressful family environment also need help to deal with their anxieties and fear. Such help is required in order to build children’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth and self-confidence.