Cindy is my wife and the mother of our three sons—each married now and well on their way to doing life in some ways as we did and, in other ways, uniquely their own. What a blessing they have been — largely thanks to Cindy.
I say that because of many things, but particularly because of Cindy’s innate ability to expect the best of them. I say innate, but perhaps it was learned. She’s a school teacher after all.
In 1968 Harvard psychologist, Robert Rosenthal, published a paper, which is now very famous called “Pygmalion in the Classroom.” It studied the impact of teachers’ expectations on students in the classroom. He took a group of K-5th grade students and gave them all a learning test.
The next fall their new teachers were casually given the names of several high achievers. Those children who had been labeled “high achievers” were simply chosen at random. There was no basis for that labeling.
At the end of the year, the students were re-tested and the amazing results were the students whom the teachers thought had the most potential – they just thought they did – had actually outscored everybody else.
The teachers described these children as happier, most curious, and more affectionate than average and having a better chance of achieving later in life. But the only change during that year was the attitude of the teachers because they had been led to expect more of certain students, the students came to expect more of themselves.
Our children were and are far from perfect, don’t hear me wrong. But they are confident and secure — and that’s largely due to Cindy’s affirming voice and facial expression, her touch and loving posture, and her consistently positive expectation.
I know there are many things to consider when it comes to raising healthy and happy kids. But here’s a good rule to follow—EXPECT THE BEST of them.
For that matter, that’s how we should believe in people, how we should treat people. Every good parent, every good friend, every great leader knows the power of positive expectation.
I am interested in how you bring out the best in your children or the best in those around you. What works for you?