an experiment shows how parents influence children
Parents want to prepare their children for life in the best possible way. However, an astonishing experience reveals that many parents make a crucial mistake in this process: instead of enhancing their child’s potential, they unwittingly undermine their offspring.
“Encourage” is the watchword when it comes to raising children. Parents want to teach their children as much as possible as early as possible. Whether it is about various awakening methods, intuitive toys, learning in several languages, the educational objective is to broaden the horizons of children, to show them what is possible and where their strengths lie.
An experiment carried out by several universities shows that this assertion, laudable in itself, is pernicious. Especially when it comes to educating young children.
Researchers have observed children left to play with a toy alone in a room. The toy is made up of several parts and has several functions: one element can honk, another light up, a third make music, and a fourth has a hidden mirror.
Scientists secretly divided the children into two groups. For the children in the first group, an adult showed them how the horn on the toy worked. The children in the second group received no education and were left to fend for themselves.
When we then compared the behavior of the children, we noticed something striking: the children of the first group played exclusively with the horn without trying to see if the toy had other functions. In contrast, the children of the second group, to whom nothing had been shown, discovered all the functions of the toy themselves and used them all.
For brain researcher Gerald Hüther, the result of the experiment is alarming. This confirms what research has been observing for some time. When parents interfere too much with children’s free play, they destroy their natural curiosity. The open view of the world is blunting:
“Children have an innate joy of discovery, until someone comes along and tells them what to do,” says Gerald Hüther.
The game has the potential to break down entrenched structures and spark innovation. When we interfere with free play, we are thus hindering precisely one of these virtues that is becoming more and more important in today’s world: creativity.
The researcher goes even further. Not only would many parents unintentionally restrict their children’s vision, but they would also hinder their development:
“We know from brain research that totally free games generate the best interconnections in the brain.”
It is by discovering the world for himself, without instruction or direction, that the child best develops his intelligence and his personality.
Seeking to encourage your child should not rhyme with shaping its offspring. Rather, education is about giving the child the opportunity to develop his mind independently. We therefore take into consideration the inner need of the child to acquire skills and learn new things.
“As long as the parents support the child in his inner drive, all is well”, says Gerald Hüther.
Give your children some freedom. We do not necessarily act adequately even when we think we are doing well. So, it is better to see our children flourish and evolve on their own by continuing to encourage them. What do you think ?
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Cover image: ©flickr / Elliot Moore