“I worry that my high parental expectations for my child are making him anxious. What if I push too hard?”
Have you thought or said this? Sometimes it is difficult to know what is the best approach to parenting, especially when it comes to having high expectations for your child. Are you going to psychologically damage him because you see potential and want the best?
UCLA profession, Neil Halfon and his colleagues conducted a national survey with 6,600 children born in 2001. They looked at how parental expectations affected their children in attaining goals. They discovered that, regardless of economic status, those parents who envisioned college in their child’s future, directed them towards that goal.
What we expect of children helps them attain success. You may have heard of the Pygmalion effect–what you expect of someone can be a self-fulling prophecy. Teachers concur. If you expect your child to succeed, you help them attain success. So discussing college, getting a job that is career focused, etc. is a goof thing to do. It helps children shoot for goals.
Of course there is a balance of putting too high expectations on children. So parental expectations need to be realistic, but challenging. So instead of worrying about not pushing them towards success, talk about their ability to achieve and succeed. You may just help that child reach his or her potential.
I have this really big assignment due. It’s going to take me lots of concentration and tedious work to get it done. Honestly, I don’t want to do it and I have been procrastinating.
Daily, I find lots of distractions and more interesting ways to spend my time. But in the back of my mind, I know that assignment is lurking, making me a bit anxious as it has to get done. I am procrastinating and I know it! So what can I do to get myself going?
Most of us could use a little help when it comes to tacking things we don’t want to tackle. We have this seemingly built in response to procrastinate. Good news is we can change our brains and push forward to doing what we don’t want to do. If procrastination is a learned habit, which it is, then it can be unlearned.
Here is what seems to help
- Break down the task to small, doable parts. Then decide when and how long you will work on that task. Just start. This is key!
- Start with some easy part. This will prompt you to keep going.
- Be aware of your excuses. When they come into your mind, label them as excuses!
- Focus on what it will feel like to finish instead of how good it feels to avoid. Tell yourself that putting it off is just delaying the inevitable. Finishing will feel good!
- Have a few mini-delays built in to your time. Take a small break, answer an email and then get back to it. Teach yourself to return to the task at hand.
- Reward yourself for any part of the completion. Whatever small start you accomplished, acknowledge it and tell yourself, you can do this.
- Build in accountability. If you set it up that you have to perform or report, a little fear will get you moving.
- Don’t overthink the task. Just do it as Nike taught us!
- Work on the task a bit each day. Putting the entire thing off is overwhelming and creates last minute anxiety that can be paralyzing.
- When you finish, remember what you did and practice it again and again. This builds mastery and changes your brain.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
You’ve got a final exam or you have to give an important presentation to the agency that could give you a promotion. There is so much to study and so much at stake. So you decide to pull an all nighter. Cram a bit more, review the important points of your presentation.
Exhausted, you’ve had about 3 hours of sleep. It’s now morning and you’ve got to be on top of your game. You grab coffee and psych yourself up for the big day. OK here you go…
We’ve all done this, but does this work? Is it a good idea?
No! Lack of sleep can result in LOWER grades and performance because it impairs learning and memory. Sleep helps what is called memory consolation–getting the information to stick! So an all nighter is actually the wrong approach. In fact, if you really want to remember and be prepared, sleep before and after learning something.
To better remember things, sleep stages are needed to consolidate that memory. In other words, you need to sleep to learn and remember! In fact, students who get around 8 hours of sleep a night tend to have higher grade point averages than those who are shorter sleepers. Why? Because sleep impacts their concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity and logical reasoning. The part of the brain responsible for higher level cognitive functioning needs sleep!
And the lack of sleep can also impact your mood. In fact, in some cases, insomnia can prompt suicidal thoughts. If you think about it, when are people more irritable and cranky? When they need sleep!
Finally, lack of sleep reduces your alertness, making you more prone to making errors and mistakes. Your perceptions and judgments are off. You simply don’t focus as well.
So to best prepare for that final exam or important presentation, review your notes and then get a good night’s sleep! Forget the all nighters. They simply don’t work! And you will be more pleasant to be around!
It’s not always easy to find people on whom you can depend. We look to family, friends and the church to be dependable. We want them to be true to their word, follow through with commitments and help meet needs during times of difficulty. Unfortunately, these sources let us down. No person, church or family is perfect.
When people or institutions fail us, we can become angry. Then bitterness sets in. Our anger stems from being disappointed. People didn’t come through. Promises made were broken.
Why do we get angry about this lack of dependability that is all around us? Because we chose to rely too much on people and things to bring us happiness. When our trust is in anything other than God, we will be disappointed. People can’t always be there in the ways we would like.
So what do we do? We put our trust in God. We depend on Him to meet our needs and bring us happiness. The story of Joshua in the Old Testament gives us pointers on how to depend on God.
The first chapter of Joshua begins with the Lord telling Joshua that Moses is dead. He tells Joshua to arise. In other words, stop looking to Moses to get you into the Promised Land. Moses is dead and isn’t taking anyone anywhere. Time to get to it yourself.
The Promised Land for many of us is a place free from distress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems. We want to free ourselves from dependency on others. Here’s how to begin:
- Pitch your tabernacle far off from the camp –Ex. 33:7. The presence of God was in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was not close to the camp. Moses had to walk to it. This took effort but the Lord spoke to him face to face. Be inconvenienced and do everything you can to be in God’s presence. You need to find a church that helps you grow. It may not be close to your house. Everything about the church may not suit you. Find a church that equips you spiritually and pitch your tent there.
- Stay in God’s presence. After Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua stayed. When things get tough, don’t give up. Stay in His presence. Even if everyone lets you down, you have the presence of God. Stay there and you will not be disappointed.
- Believe God’s promises are for you. God tells Joshua that no man will be able to stand against him. What a powerful promise. If God is on our side, it doesn’t matter what people do. He will be our avenger. He will get us to the place of rest.
- Follow the commandments and God’s laws. God tells Joshua not to look to the left or right. The message is that no one or thing will save you. Look to God, keep His commandments and He will accomplish His purposes. He will get you to the Promised Land.
- Speak the promises of God. Don’t blame other people for your problems. Learn not to look to others to meet your needs. God makes this promise-I will supply all your needs. Believe it, say it and act as if it is true.
The next time you feel angry with someone for letting you down, look to God to be the one on whom you will depend. He won’t disappoint.