The Shocking Effect of Negative Messages

Published: 18th November 2006
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I couldn't believe my ears and my eyes when I watched this report on the television. Of course I know (and have written about this subject in one of the articles in "Develop Your Child's Genius" newsletter), that self esteem is a super important factor in a person's success, but the report I was watching really caused Goosebumps all over me. It was astonishing.

They showed a teacher who decided to run an experiment on her little students (kids in elementary school) and teach them a lesson they will never forget. She divided the class into 2 groups by eye color. The blue-eyed kids and the brown-eyed kids. She told them that the brown-eyed kids are bad. They are incapable and inferior students. They don't possess the ability to understand complicated issues and are slower to learn. After a few hours, the kids who had brown eyes, started performing in an inferior way! They have lost their self esteem, and tested much lower on tests than the blue eyed kids. The teacher has documented the marked reduction in test results and the video showed the depressed demeanor of these kids the rest of the day.

The day after, the teacher walked into the classroom, and told her students that actually, what she told them the day before was wrong. The kids in the brown-eyed group are not the inferior group, but the superior group. The blue-eyed group is inferior, she said. The same phenomena could be observed here too! The blue-eyed kids started performing much worse on tests and in the class room!

Subsequently, the teacher told the students that this was an experiment, showed them the results and explained to them in a very clear way, that the color of one's eyes does not affect their intelligence, their performance on tests and their capabilities. She has shown the kids how they have let the teacher's assessment affect them, and told them never to let anybody else's judgment affect them in a negative way.

This was, I imagine, an unforgettable lesson for these children. It was an unforgettable lesson for me too!

In addition, there were 2 other researches conducted at 2 different colleges. The subjects were young adults, students at those schools. They were asked to fill out questionnaires on line at high speed. As the results showed, the students were deeply affected by stereotypes. The researches showed that people had bias against old people, and against minorities. What was so surprising was that old people and minorities had conformed to the standard stereotypes. They had a bias against their own groups! One of the researches showed that African Americans, affected by the stereotype that African American people are talented in sports and inferior in academics, conformed to those beliefs and performed poorly on their academics, but were excellent in sports. When the stereotype was changed, and African American students were told that they had high intelligence and low muscle tone, they started performing markedly higher on their academics, but their performance in sports fell. Is this amazing or what!

How can you learn from this to the benefit of your child? Self esteem affects your child's performance in every area of their life, and will affect them for years to come!

If you analyze what had happened in this research, you will realize that what the teacher did is actually giving the children negative messages. These were negative affirmations, and they were super effective. To negate the negative messages that our children are bombarded with all the time, we can use positive affirmations, and those are very effective too.

I suggest doing 2 things:

1. Prepare a list of general positive affirmations that are designed to increase your child's self esteem and confidence. Simply sit down and create a list of all affirmations that come to mind. You can add to this list any time you can think of a new affirmation. A few examples are:

- I am smart, and getting smarter every day.

- I can achieve any goal I set my mind to achieve.

- I am a good person, and I deserve utmost respect.

Then you can repeat them to your child during the day, as many time as you can. Choose an affirmation or two a day, and remember to repeat them to your child. For example: "You are very smart, and you are getting smarter and smarter every day", or "you can achieve any goal you set your mind to achieve", and so forth. Try to repeat each affirmation at least 3 times.

Another thing you can do is record a few affirmations (3 times each) onto a recording device. You can read them or have your child read them while recording. Listen to the affirmations any time you can, in the car, or let your child listen to them before going to sleep and first thing in the morning, if you can incorporate it into the schedule. You can choose a favorite song and sing the affirmations to the music, teach the song to your child, and repeat the song any time you feel like it.

2. Always keep updated with what is going on in your child's life. Sometimes the things that seem small and unimportant to us, have a big affect on our children's lives. Remember these things might be very important to your child. Talk with your child, discuss what happened during the day in school or with friends. If you discover a specific negative message your child had gotten from friends, teachers or any negative events that happened during the day, add a specific positive affirmation to negate this negative message to your affirmation list. Repeat this affirmation to your child as soon as you possible.

I know that you will not be able to catch all negative affirmations that affect your child. This is unrealistic to expect, but you will be able to negate a good number of them, and help your child immensely by doing this. The general positive affirmations that you repeat to your child every day will help your child deal with the negative messages that you did not find out about.

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