Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Importance of Relationships to our Children

I was recently exposed to Gordon Neufeld, PhD, a developmental psychologist from the University of British Columbia.  I was watching his Relationships Matter DVD with a colleague.  I am just going to touch on one of the many points Neufeld touched on.

Neufeld brought up a study where kids, who were sitting on their moms lap, had “hot spots” in their brain while learning math.  However, when these kids were learning math and sitting a lab assistants lap, there were no “hot spots”.  It was determined that these kids developed their “hot spots”, a spike in the spot of the brain showing an interest in the subject of math, because they were sitting with their mom, someone they trusted.  Someone they had a relationship with.  The conclusion was made that kids learn better when they are learning from someone they trust.

This is not something new to counsellors and therapists. They know that roughly 30% of the success of counselling is built on the relationship between the client and counsellor, plus another 15% on the counsellors expectations of the client (such as, they will succeed in overcoming their addiction). Only 15% is actually from the trained set of skills of the counsellor.  The relationship between the counsellor and client is key, if not essential, for the benefit and success of the client.

However, Neufeld applied this to a different set of people who work primarily with children; namely teachers.  WE as adults can probably easily look back and think of teachers that we liked, and got along with, and how much simpler it seemed to be to learn from them, and enjoy their class.  We can probably also think of teachers that, well, we didn’t get along with, and how difficult those classes were, and how we probably didn’t learn much from that class.  Relationships between students and their teachers are essential for learning.

This puts a question into my mind, about how seriously we examine the teachers in a school.  Sometimes we focus more on the school and its reputation.  However, no matter the reputation of the school, it is essential to know whether or not your child’s teacher will be able to make a relationship with them.  One teacher won’t be able to be the all for every student, but they should get along with your child.  Yes it may be great that a teacher is well credentialed, but it is not as important as social skills.  Teaching skills can be taught, however social skills or emotional intelligence cannot be so easily learned and taught.

So maybe when we are looking at putting our kids in kindergarten, we should really examine their teachers, and have our kids meet their teacher before hand, if that’s not being done already.  If your child is struggling at school, investigate the relationship between your child and their teacher.

This may also be a good time to investigate your relationship with your child.  Obviously you aren’t supposed to be their BFF, you are their parent, but do they trust you, can and do they learn from you.

Those who have relationships with our children, they will be able to learn from, and in turn, become more like them.

Written by:

Josh Lockhart Locking Hearts Together

Photo by: photostack

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