UNITED STATES—I cannot let January get by without mentioning that it is NATIONAL MENTORING MONTH! It is amazing how mentoring and parenting both go a far way in the development of a child’s self-concept and it is sad that this positivism is not encouraged in more households.

When parents imagine how they will raise the anticipated child, they most likely envision a positive and happy environment. One where physical, dietary, and financial needs are met, but do you know what is just as important? An environment conducive to raising a child who can grow, evolve, and function as an individual. The end goal being to create an adult able to function in the modern world.

One common negative factor that diminishes possible bright minds is environmental bias, says the Human Exceptionalities textbook, which states that the environment itself has a large bearing on what is perceived as normal. If children are stigmatized because of a special ability, it will influence their belief system.

An encouraging environment IS a necessity.

A study was done in the early 1930s, before ethics laws were enacted to prevent research like this that can cause irreparable harm to a subject. It showed just how important early stimulation is to children.

H.M. Skeel and H.B.Dye found low IQ children and provided them with stimulation, then another group with average IQ, and placed them in the non-stimulating environment. The results proved just as was expected: a lack of stimulation can cause intellectual deficiency while an increased and intentional amount of intellectual stimulation causes an improved IQ.

The research also contradicted a popular belief by proving that the birth parents educational, occupational, and overall socioeconomic status had very little to do with the developed IQ of children. Even more compelling was the fact that the foster parents were “vitally interested” in the children and worked hard at giving the lower IQ group an abundance of love and teaching.

Whether it is politically correct to say or not, it makes perfect sense that parents who put effort into the educational stimulation of a child are apt to encourage a smarter child than a family that is unwilling or unable to put effort into the child.

Children raised in environments where self-discipline is consistently displayed and practiced, usually have this behavior embedded into the personality, the same for deviant behavior. We KNOW kids learn appropriate behavior by watching parent’s reactions and will emulate what they see, be it negative or positive, according to Wolfelt’s Helping Children Cope with Grief (1983).

Research has been done into the parenting styles used during the childhoods of accomplished athletes. Some are surprisingly simple:

  1. teach self-discipline because without this you cannot master ANYTHING!
  2. eat together with your child.
  3. encourage happy and healthy emotional responses such as learning how to accept winning AND failure both.

Eating together as a family is one simple thing that is often sacrificed, and the reasons are often justificatory. Kids DO have practice… Parents DO HAVE to work 2 jobs sometimes. Real effort should be put forth to share at least one meal, even if it is breakfast.

Amazingly, the act of something so ordinary can have incredible long-term effects on a child, such as make them twice as likely to get A’s, try new and healthy food, and even encourage healthy relationships between family members through the openness and communication skills practices at the table, says this CNN health report.

Another thing to remember is that you have to pick your time expenditures just as you should pick your battles with kids. Do you have to work an extra job because you legitimately do have extra expenses, or is it so you can afford a wine and shoe collection lifestyle? You only have ONE CHANCE to instill a healthy personality, what they learn during youth dictates the rest of life.

Scientific evidence shows that it is not success that brings happiness, but rather happiness that fosters success.

Unmotivated, “do what I need to do vs do what I should do” parenting prevents the creation of gifted youth according to this study by C. Tomlinson-Keasy published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, 1990.  Two long-term studies they reported on show that it is intellectual skills, parental values, and personality characteristics that most supported the transition between a gifted child and highly functional and achieving adult. This knowledge was published 33 years ago, so we no longer need to ask ourselves why our youth do not strive as much as they once did.

Parents are too busy or lazy to give extra in the intellectual department. We are LACKING the values it takes to teach them to youth, and the children across America have personality deficits as a result of the first two.

Can you imagine the structure Michael Phelps (American Olympian) had growing up with parents that were a high school principal and police officer? In published Q&A with his mom, she said; “We had to keep him structured. As long as he was on a schedule, he was great.”

Michael Phelps with the GOLD Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Michael Phelps with the GOLD Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We know from many decades of research: it takes the effort and consistency FROM THE PARENT to teach the basics of both intellect AND manners AND rules – before they are sent to school around age 5.

Let’s start loading our children’s brains as we do APPS on our phones, for OVERALL BEST functionality.