The Pigmalion effect and its negative consequences on children

Phasing or labeling our child according to a certain behavior can result in the child ending up assuming that way of being because he ends up believing that is what we expect from him, something that can be very harmful for his education if we only see him negative aspects of his personality.

This is what is known as Pigmalion effect.

Avoid labeling your children: the Pigmalion effect error

Surely we recognize that many times we have qualified our son in a negative way and we make him see that it is like that, that we do not like him in that aspect and we do not expect him to change. With comments like "what a mess you are, it does not do anything right", "walk, I better do it than you are a clumsy" or "you could learn from your brother, who is smarter and more industrious than you" .. We only show little confidence in our son and we dynamite self-esteem, an effect that causes the child not to change because he considers that he is like that and can not do anything ... what ends up getting the child to behave as as we do not want This is the most unpleasant of the consequences of the so-called "Pygmalion effect", an educational error in which unfortunately many parents and teachers fall.


Positive and negative aspects of the Pigmalion effect

The Pygmalion effect is defined as "the process by which the beliefs and expectations of one person with respect to another affect their behavior in such a way that the second tends to confirm them." In the same way that fear tends to cause what occurs it is feared, the confidence in oneself, or infected by a third party, can help to reach the desired goal ".

The behavior of an adult is greatly altered according to the beliefs that others have about us: the lack of confidence in our environment can lead us not to face challenges for fear of failure, and on the contrary, if there is confidence and push among those around us, we will see ourselves with the ability to throw ourselves where it is needed. There are many times we act to meet the expectations that are expected of us, rather than by ourselves.


Children do not get rid of this effect, so the position and good touch of their parents is essential for them to have a good development of their own personality and character. As we have seen, the Pygmalion effect can be positive and negative.

- The Pigmalion effect is positive when we provoke a good effect on our son, encouraging him to face a complicated task for him because we trust him, reinforcing a secure image and high self-esteem. It also means encouraging him in the face of failures so that he can try again or teach him to assume the negative consequences of an action that has gone badly, even if the child has tried to do well.

- The Pigmalion effect is negative when We destroy the child's self-esteem through comments and disqualifications. When we bring out their shortcomings and highlight them as if they were the features that best define him: that he is a lazy, complaining, clumsy, if he is stupid for not getting good grades, etc.


A burden for school motivation

The Pygmalion effect not only affects the child at home, but it can also be extended to the school and what is worse, a bad concept of himself can accompany him during the rest of his life, preventing him from developing all his abilities.

In school, the teacher may fall into the error of treating their students differently according to their way of being and show favoritism towards those who stand out, to the detriment of those with lower performance or worse grades. The motivation of the less "dazzling" students can then plummet if they see that they are not able to carry out certain subjects and do not have the support of the teacher.

The studies carried out around the Pygmalion effect in the classrooms show that in the end, the students end up responding according to the expectations that they have about them. The best known of these studies is the one Rosenthal made: he gave the teachers of a school a list of students and told them that they had a higher capacity than the others, when the truth is that this number of students had been chosen at random. However, the surprise came when this group made a greater intellectual advance than the rest. Since the professors expected better results than the others, they became more involved with them, which together with a growing self-esteem in the students designated as brilliant brought as fruit the one that lived up to the expectations, so the "prophecy" of Rosenthal had been fulfilled. Indeed, now they stood out above the others in terms of school grades.

These facts show that both parents and teachers must be aware that constructive expectations in children and students will bear fruit, avoiding that a low concept in oneself will become the worst burden for children.

Avoid throwing your faults in your face to change

On the other hand, many parents believe that by telling their child about their defects and negative aspects that they do not like, they will make the child "wake up" and do something to change their behavior and please their parents. But the vast majority of the time is not like that, and this adds to the child in great sadness, not knowing what to do to be better and feeling that his parents do not want him to be like that.

A child is someone who is still training at all levels, both physical and psychological, and we can not miss that at this stage is very vulnerable to the judgments of others, especially those issued by parents. Our expectations about him will shape his behavior and personality, so we must be cautious and not issue hurtful grades. Parents must know how to be empathetic with our child and not set unattainable goals for him or reduce our love to obtain a series of objectives, such as getting good grades at school. It is something that can cause frustration and the feeling that you have to make merit to get your parents to love you. Therefore, parents must strive to provide security and confidence to the child, in addition to promoting a strong and healthy self-esteem. It is the best way for our child's behavior to be positively reinforced and great results.

It promotes your self-esteem

The best way for our son to fulfill the objectives we propose is motivating him and showing him our confidence. Scolding him for his mistakes or clumsiness and showing us disgusted by his way of being will only create insecurity and lead him to be unable to face many of the challenges that life will pose him. Therefore, to strengthen your self-esteem, we can follow the following steps:

- Must be aware of the unconditional love of their parents. The love of the parents is not something that should be earned with merit and good behavior, but always will have, even when he has done some mischief and has taken a reprimand.
- Set achievable goals for the child. Ordering the room, helping with household chores ... these are some of the objectives that you can fulfill and with which you can see that you are able to achieve everything that is asked of you.
- Happy for a job well done and his good deeds. The compliments will always be welcome and will reinforce the self-confidence. But let's try not to go over and fall into excessive praise.
- Speak positively about your child before other people, when he is present. This will make him see how proud his parents are of him and encourage him to have a good behavior, in addition to strengthening the trust he has in us.
- Allows you to make mistakes. This way he will learn to take on failure and to try again, as well as learn to do things differently. On the other hand, we admit our mistakes when we commit them, in this way the child will see that erring is something that can happen to all of us, and that it is a valuable lesson to learn.

Conchita Requero

Other items that may interest you:

How to handle bad childhood behavior

10 mistakes that parents make with our children

Children's self-esteem, techniques to enhance it

Video: What is The Pygmalion Effect? (Rosenthal): Example & Definition!


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