Back Talk #2

After a sense of self-efficacy is established, it is continually nurtured through positive feedback and appropriate “mirroring” back to the child.  Then a sense of self-mastery begins…

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

In order to foster self-mastery, first one must be aware that a problem exists – you cannot change what you are unaware of.

1)    Bring into awareness that which we are trying to master.  This coupled with growing self-efficacy gives a child a clear vision (and self-esteem to move toward it) of where he or she is headed.

2)    In bringing awareness – separate the issue from the child.  In other words, say, “Your brain has an issue with reading comprehension.  There are ways of improving and changing that.  Do you want to learn?”  Instead of, “YOU have a reading comprehension problem.”

3)    Work within the child’s functionality to achieve learned mastery.  If the child cannot do it functionally – model what it is you want them to do, or “hand-over-hand” assist until they can do it, or break down the task into manageable segments.

4)    After functionality is established, work with flexibility.  Now that the child can read a certain kind of book with great comprehension, let’s expand it into other kinds of books, or literature.

5)    After flexibility, work with fluency – can the child do it without interruption (mostly this is established through practice & repetition).

6)    Lastly, look at the fluidity at which the child is working – again, this is implemented with practice and repetition (the more one practices a piece on the piano the more fluid and with greater fluency he or she can play it).

After awareness (or bringing into the conscious that which is unconscious) and actively working on it, one assimilates this skill into the subconscious.  Look at the subconscious mind as a garden with rich, fertile soil and each day one is planting seeds in this garden.  These “seeds” are thoughts, feelings and beliefs that one is consciously aware of.  For instance, if one says, “I can ride a bike” yet, your subconscious belief is that “I can’t do anything” the subconscious will direct the course.  However, one can use constructive autosuggestion to change the pre-programming of the subconscious.

One very powerful way to do this is to use affirmations.  In the above belief, one simply states “I can do anything.”  Now, of course this will take time to change this belief, however, for a child changing the way the think about something is merely pointing out ways in which they are already succeeding.  (This takes some creativity, but it can be done).

Self mastery becomes as simple as “I can do it.”


He who teaches children learns more than they do.
German Proverb

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