Last week I got the phone call. Would I be interested to come to a job interview? The job is in a little city 3 hours away from here, as a community psychologist. The job description is working with youngsters from 7-18 years old, and it will entail education of health personnel who work with children and families with problems. I really want this job, so am quite nervous before the interview. I practiced together with my supervision last week, and found I lost my words quite often. What are my worst qualities? How will I contribute to the well-being of the children? How will I react when I have to go against the parents wishes because they don’t see the problem? Some questions are hard to answer because I don’t always have a firm opinion about what they want to know. What is most important, though, is to get my enthusiasm out there. I want to help others, and the reason for really wanting this job is that it will be all about early stage treatment. I will have the chance to focus on prevention and not just healing after people have suffered for years. I also like the fact that I’ll have the chance to work together with people from different occupations, like nurses, teachers and politicians. I will be able to contribute with what I know about psychology on a community level, and this has truly been a dream for me. So cross your fingers for me!
At three and half years old he is capable of entering the security code on my iPad so that he can play one of his games. He knows his numbers from one to ten and is able to identify most of the letters of the alphabet. And just recently he has learned to play a pretty good game of catch.
So why is it that my son can’t wrap a blanket around his body by himself?
I can’t count how many times my son has asked either my wife or I to tuck him in. The first three hundred times he asked, I thought to myself, “when will he learn to tuck his own self in?” I mean usually we’re just talking about a foot sticking out here or a toe sticking out there.
Then it hit me last week that maybe it is not the physical act of tucking in that’s significant. Maybe it’s what tucking in represents that matters to kids.
It helps them to feel good.
It helps them to feel safe.
More than anything, it helps them to feel loved.
Tucking a child in only requires an extra moment or two. But that extra moment or two may be the difference between a fantastic dream or a frightening nightmare.
As I reflect more on how much it means to my son to be tucked in I can’t help but think that tucking in may be a metaphor that extends beyond blankets and children. Maybetucking in can apply to those moments in our lives when we can provide something for someone that they may not be ready to provide for themselves.
We’ve all had someone provide these moments of comfort and reassurance to us and we remember how good it felt to know that we were not alone. It’s possible that we would have been fine on our own, but it’s certain that we were better for someone stepping up and helping to tuck us in.
So starting tomorrow look for ways that you can tuck others in.
Rosenthal’s most famous study was conducted with Lenore Jacobson in 1963 at an elementary school just south of San Francisco, California (Spiegel, 2012). His purpose was to figure out what would ensue if teachers would react differently towards certain students if told that a select number of students were expected to learn more information and more quickly than the pupils in their class. To test this, Rosenthal issued a Test of General Ability to the students in the beginning of the year (“Rosenthal’s Work, n.d.). After the students had completed this IQ test, some were chosen at random to be the students that were expected to academic bloomers; however, the results of the test did not influence which students of the class were chosen (Bruns et al., 2000). He continued to observe the interactions between teachers and students and decided to issue another IQ test at the end of the study to see how IQ has improved in students that were to be academic bloomers versus the control group (Spiegel, 2012).
Rosenthal’s and Jacobson’s results had reinforced their hypothesis that the IQs of the “academic bloomers” would in fact be higher than those of the control group even though these academic bloomers were chosen at random (Bruns et al., 2000). Especially in younger children like those in grades 1 and 2, there was a remarkable difference in the increases of IQ between the students chosen to be academic bloomers and those that were not. A reason for this is because younger children may be able to be influenced more greatly by their teachers, who are respected authorities (“Rosenthal’s Work”, n.d.).
The conclusions demonstrated by the study greatly illustrate the Pygmalion effect, or Rosenthal effect, which is the phenomenon that explains better performances by people when greater expectations are put on them (Bruns et al., 2000). For example, the teachers in the study, may have unnoticeably given the supposed academic bloomers more personal interactions, highly extensive feedback, more approval, and kind gestures, such as nods and smiling (Spiegel, 2012). On the other hand, teachers would generally pay less attention to low-expectancy students, seat them farther away from teachers in the classroom, and offer less reading and learning material (Bruns et al., 2000).
Small children scared to death of something they yet don`t understand. We shake our heads in disbelief. Parents, families and friends, who should love and protect them, harm them instead.
I know many are angry and saddened by the staggering numbers of abuse.
It is not only war that haunts us, the evil acts of brothers, sisters and friends, haunts us
I can`t stop being naive; Believing that things can get better, but I need to see actions by the governments and powerful people that have our lives in their hands. Like Lilly Allen says: I love diamonds, I heard people die when their trying to find them. How many luxury goods do we need, while the world falls more and more apart? Is the empty life of so many the whole reason that positive change takes so much time?
What if we all stretched out our hands. Not afraid of touching other human beings? But every person has their story, and some of the stories people carry with them, are dark enough to block out life even if it`s right in front of them. How long can they stay in the dark? How far can we cope with our own neglect of humanity? How long can we value ourselves, forgetting others in the process? Because there are thousand kinds of abuse, and us looking away, sure doesn`t make the world a better place.
Child abuse should never happen. But it does, and we must face that. We can`t shake our heads in disbelief, at the same time as we do nothing. So, let`s shine some light, so that the darkness might lift a little.
‘No’ he screamed and stamped his feet . He was tired of listening and trying to understand all the time.
Tired of parents telling him what to do, with no affection when he actually tried. His little feet grew bigger, until they made the scary sound he wanted. He stamped until the ground shook and the floorboard cracked. His ‘no’ was now a real threat and the gleam in his eye of defiance lethal. He now finally got what he wanted; Attention. His own attentive stare glared at her face. He remembered exactly how a face carved in contempt looked; His parents knew the expression exactly. Sometimes he remembered the lines in their faces so vividly that it almost felt like their girlfriend had the same look of disgust behind the contempt. Their lines superimposed on everyone else’s, almost like a lid almost fitting a box. He also remembered how they shut their windows so nobody could see their valuable assets and steal them. He knew how important it was to hide from thieves and couldn’t understand why the people at school complained over ‘he just blanked out’. Didn’t they know that was necessary to protect them from taking what is yours ?
It’s tough being a child when navigating in a dangerous world.
‘No, I won’t accept your drama!’ He shouted. When another flinch on her reignited more memories of withdrawal, he took her thin arm and held it tight. No one could win over him anymore. He would never be weak again
WHAT IS THE PROPER AGE TO GET MARRIED?
"Eighty-four. Because at that age, you don't have to work anymore, and
you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom." (Judy,
"Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm goin o find me a wife."
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
"On the first date, they just tell each ot her lies, and that usually
gets them interested enough to go for a second date." (Mike, 10)
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
"You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her
a big ring and her own VCR, 'cause she'll want to have videos of the
"Never kiss in front of other people. It's a big embarrassing thing if
anybody sees you. But if nobody sees you, I might be willing to
try it with a handsome boy, but just for a few hours." (Kally, 9)
THE GREAT DEBATE: IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
"It's better for girls to be single, but not for boys. Boys need
somebody to clean up after them." (Lynette, 9)
"It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I'm just a kid. I
don't need that kind of trouble." (Kenny, 7)
CONCERNING WHY LOVE HAPPENS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE:
"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do
with how you smell. That's why perfume and deodorant are so popular."
"I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but
the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." (Harlen, 8) ON WHAT
FALLING IN LOVE IS LIKE:
"Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." (Roger, 9)
"If falling in love is anything like learning to spell, I don't want
to do it. It takes too long to learn." (Leo, 7)
ON THE ROLE OF GOOD LOOKS IN LOVE AND ROMANCE:
"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family,
it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." (Jeanne, 8)
"It isn't always just how you look. Look at me. I'm handsome like
anything and I haven't got anybody to marry me yet." (Gary, 7)
"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a longtime."
CONCERNING WHY LOVERS OFTEN HOLD HANDS:
"They want to make sure their rings don't fall off, because they paid
good money for them." (David, 8)
CONFIDENTIAL OPINIONS ABOUT LOVE:
"I'm in favor of love as long as it doesn't happen when The Simpsons
are on TV." (Anita, 6)
"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I've been
trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding
me." (Bobby, 8)
"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard
enough." (Regina, 10)
PERSONAL QUALITIES NECESSARY TO BE A GOOD LOVER:
"One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you
have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills." (Ava 8)
SOME SUREFIRE WAYS TO MAKE A PERSON FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU:
"Tell them you own a whole bunch of candy stores." (Del, 6)
"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get
attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." (Alonzo, 9)
"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she
likes to eat. French fries usually works for me." (Bart, 9)
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO ADULTS EATING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT ARE IN
"Just see if the man picks up the check. That's how you can tell if
he's in love." (John, 9)
"Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get
cold. Other people care more about the food," (Brad, 8)
"It's love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They
like to order those because it's just like their hearts are on
WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE THINKING WHEN THEY SAY "I LOVE YOU":
"The person is thinking: Yeah, I really do love him, but I hope he
showers at least once a day." (Michelle, 9)
HOW A PERSON LEARNS TO KISS:
"You learn it right on the spot, when the gushy feelings get the best
of you." (Doug, 7)
"It might help if you watched soap operas all day." (Carin, 9)
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
"It's never okay to kiss a boy. They always slobber all over
you...that's why I stopped doing it." (Jean, 10)
HOW TO MAKE LOVE ENDURE:
"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." (Tommy, 7)
"Don't forget your wife's name...that will mess up the love."
"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take
the trash out." (Randy, 8)
Elliott divided her class by eye color — those with blue eyes and those with brown. On the first day, the blue-eyed children were told they were smarter, nicer, neater, and better than those with brown eyes.
Throughout the day, Elliott praised them and allowed them privileges such as a taking a longer recess and being first in the lunch line. In contrast, the brown-eyed children had to wear collars around their necks and their behavior and performance were criticized and ridiculed by Elliott.
On the second day, the roles were reversed and the blue-eyed children were made to feel inferior while the brown eyes were designated the dominant group. What happened over the course of the unique two-day exercise astonished both students and teacher.
On both days, children who were designated as inferior took on the look and behavior of genuinely inferior students, performing poorly on tests and other work.
Like many readers already know: I am an incurable softy. I get touched by everything beautiful, especially people`s courage, personalities and thoughts. I must confess that this documentary awoke a mix of different feelings: Sadness for the wrongs we`ve done, but also hope for the future and love towards humanity. It also excited some thoughts: What if we could teach children by asking the right questions without feeding them our own pre-made solutions? Do we learn teachers how to teach, what to focus on and how to take care of our future at all? Because, our children are the future, and I really hope they will do better than we did.
I`d rather know this before I have my own children; I want to know that the world can be better, before I let them run around in it. Peril will be everywhere, of course, but as long as there`s hope, I`m willing to take a chance. I want to protect them from landmines around the next corner.
My eyes are still filled with tears, touched by the courageous woman who wanted to show her class what racism is by making them really understand it. My first sceptical «be-carefulness», was convinced by her gentle voice that soothed both the children in the “experiment” and me.
Thank you, brave woman. Thank you for not closing your eyes.
I embed hope in my touched tears, and know they won`t be shed for nothing.
The horrible part was not that one was forced to join in: But that it was impossible not to.
BODY & MIND
Hand Gestures Could Make Kids Smarter
By Maia Szalavitz
Using hand gestures may be important for more than just making a point; they could help children to learn.
In research published in the journal Developmental Psychology, preschoolers and kindergartners who naturally gestured to indicate what they were trying to do showed more self control, an ability associated with cognitive maturity.
The scientists came to this conclusion after testing children for their ability to sort objects according to changing criteria. Even adults have difficulty switching from one set of instructions to another, since the brain automates some aspects of learning to optimize efficiency. Once something is learned, however, it’s a challenge to unlearn and inhibit the reflexive response. That’s why it helps to develop good habits early — whether it’s a golf swing or eating a healthy diet. It’s easier to learn something correctly the first time than it is to unlearn ineffective techniques and relearn better ones.
In the experiment, 41 kids aged 2 to 6 had to place cards in trays. In one round, the tots first had to sort pictures of blue rabbits or red boats by color and then were asked to sort them by the object’s shape, regardless of color. In another game, they had to distinguish pictures of large or small yellow bears either by size or by whether teddy was right side up or sideways.
MORE: Self-Disciplined People Are Happier (and Not as Deprived as You Think)
During the task, some of the children instinctively used gestures — making rabbit ears when they knew shape mattered, or moving their palms from facing up to turning sideways when they were sorting by the teddy bear’s orientation — to guide themselves.
“Our study shows that young children’s gesturing can help them think,” says the study’s lead author Patricia Miller, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. What’s more, she found that this effect had a stronger effect on successful performance than age — a powerful finding given that children’s skills improve rapidly with age during this stage of development.
“It’s not just what’s going on inside the head that’s linked with how kids learn and perform, but how they express it with their body that matters, too.” says Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To, who was not associated with the study.
The toddlers’ gestures could be interpreted as a glimpse of their brains at work, as they figure out how to exert the cognitive control necessary to complete their tasks. But were the gestures simply a marker for a higher level of intelligence? To find out, Miller and her team asked the toddlers to explain what they were doing, an ability strongly tied to verbal skills. It turned out that the children’s ability to correctly verbalize their reasoning did not predict their success as well as gesturing did. Gestures also increased in the few tasks just after the criteria shifted, making them more difficult, which also supports the idea that gesturing itself was helpful.
The research is only the latest to explore how movement of the body is fundamental to the way in which the mind works. Earlier work showed that older children were better able to learn math if taught to use gestures while doing so. And they often found the right answer physically — for example, by making movements to signify the numbers that needed to be kept together to add correctly — before finding it verbally. Miller’s own research found improvements in math performance, which requires improved mental control, among overweight kids after they became more physically active.
That has implications for improving the way we communicate and think, and could help to address developmental disorders associated with cognitive control issues, such as autism. “In some ways, motor behavior might be ahead of our conscious verbal behavior,” says Miller, “It may be pulling development along.”
MORE: Control Yourself! Inhibiting Physical Action Cuts Risky Gambling and Drinking
If that’s true, using gestures to improve self-control could also help to manage addictive behaviors. One study found that simply teaching people to inhibit actions (in this case, refraining from pressing a computer key that they were previously trained to press) before seeing images related to gambling reduced the number of risky bets they placed. Another study found a 30% drop in drinking among Dutch students who hadn’t even been trying to cut down, after they performed a task in which they restrained themselves from pressing keys when seeing images of beer. These findings suggest that simply making gestures involved with refusing or controlling behavior could help to change it. (The same process may enhance behaviors as well; heavy marijuana users who pulled images of pot “closer” to them on a computer screen smoked more following the exercise.)
“There’s a close connection between mind and body,” Miller says. Abstract thought, in fact, typically requires grounding in concrete, physical metaphors.
“This research suggests that not only do our thoughts affect our bodies, but our bodies can affect how we decide, what we think and how we learn,” says Beilock. So when it comes to learning, children may need to use their hands as well as their brains.
Maia Szalavitz @maiasz
Maia Szalavitz is a neuroscience journalist for TIME.com and co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential — and Endangered.