Dr Joyce Willard Teal

Cheerful african american young lady in graduation costume

During this season is a good time to make it clear to your son that you have the expectation that he will always do his best. Assist and encourage him to internalize this concept to the extent that he is displeased with himself when he does not put his best foot forward. You want him to experience the satisfaction of knowing that he has done the very best that he can. ALWAYS..

Throughout school, the most important parental role of all is to shape your child’s attitude toward learning and school, to communicate high expectations, and to help your child set goals and solve learning problems. And setting expectations doesn’t mean telling your child, “We are bound and determined that you are going to get into Harvard.” It means sending the message that doing the best that he can is important for all the things he is going to be able to do in life and that one’s best efforts will usually yield a desired outcome.

A recent column referenced a study undertaken at the National Institute of Mental Health which found that children lack brain connectivity to make decisions on the same organizational and critical thinking levels that mature adults do. But despite this reality, you can help your child learn the importance of always doing his best. You can help him to learn the importance of doing his best in every assignment he undertakes.

As an educator, I have heard numerous parents say in their sons’ or daughters’ presence things like, “I was a terrible math student; I hate math and my child does too! I don’t expect him to be a math genius.”

If you say YOU hate math, be aware that you are shaping your child’s attitude toward math, particularly if you’re a mom speaking to a daughter, or speaking within your daughter’s hearing. Your daughter loves you and wants to be just like you. She may pick up the false message the math isn’t for girls. Most mothers would never say, “I hate reading. I hate books. I haven’t read a book since high school.” Yet somehow many parents apparently feel that it’s okay to disparage their math skills.

Never allow your negative experience to  influence your child. Although you may have had a negative experience in the area of mathematics, expect your child to have a positive experience. You cannot encourage your child to do his best unless he knows that you have this expectation, so you expect your child to succeed in math. In all likelihood, your child will fulfill your expectations. There are few parents who do not have the basic skills to make sure their third grader succeeds in math. Do not project your negative experience onto your child but rather give him (or her) the extra help and reassurance needed to succeed.

As a parent who knows the importance of encouraging your child to do his best, always expect your child to do his or her best, and convey this message in such a way that your child is cognizant of your expectations long before he or she begins formal schooling. One of the most important things you can do for your son is to help him to internalize the importance of always doing his best. This will not only serve your son in good stead, it will also serve those who love and care for him in the same manner.

Picture of Joyce W. Teal

Joyce W. Teal

Dr. Teal began writing professionally in 1995 and has had several award-winning poems published. Her first book, It’s O.K. To Be Different, was written for boys and girls between the ages of nine and fifteen, but has universal appeal, has since been published in a New Millennium Edition. It is currently being read by children as well as adults.