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The 10 Best Things a Mother Ever Told Her Child

The 10 Best Things a Mother Ever Told Her Child

 

mother with child on hip

              

    In the modern age of online self-improvement tips and self-help books, we seem to have lost our way on some of the most basic things in life. When I say basic, I mean the things our mothers (and fathers) have been telling us for as long as we can remember.  Now, I know that not everybody’s parents are clinicians, psychologists and self help gurus.  And furthermore, we all know that our parents didn’t walk three miles to school, both ways, in the snow, without shoes. 

    But I think that it is pretty safe to say that some of the folk wisdom handed down from generation to generation was handed down for a reason.  It was useful and it made sense.  Moreover, much of it has now been shown to be scientifically sound.  So maybe it’s time we turn off our smart phones and tablets and get our information the old fashioned way— by asking our mothers (and fathers).  So here are some of my favorite gems of conventional wisdom.

    Do it until it’s done.

    family gardening

      It turns out to be true that those of us that show the best task persistence actually do better in many areas of life.  I often hear my own kids asking, “How much longer do I have to do this for?  How long do I have to study?  How long do I have to clean my room for? Now I think back to my fairly stress free childhood, and I know that I had it easy compared to many others of my generation and before, but I remember this: “You do it until you are finished.”  That might be one hour.  That might be 10 hours.  But you are finished when the job is done. 

      It turns out that task persistence matters. So do your best and finish a job.  And when you get to the point when you think you can’t do any more, think again and go try some more. 

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      Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, does a beautiful job of making this point.  In one chapter in which he discusses why some people do better than others at mathematics, he goes into our attitudes towards mathematics.  Those who give up and say “I can’t do this. I need you to show me how” not surprisingly don’t do as well at mathematics as those who say “I can’t do this yet.  I need to take a different approach”. 

      Gladwell goes on to describe the TIMSS test, in which every four years an international group of educators administer a comprehensive mathematics test to elementary and junior high school students around the world.  Before the students sit the exam, they fill in a questionnaire which asks them all kinds of questions relating to, for example, their parents’ level of education, who their friends are, and so on.  This is a tedious and demanding questionnaire.  In fact it is so tedious that many students leave as many as 10-20 questions blank.  The average number of questions answered varies from country to country.  But here is the interesting part.  The number of questions answered on the questionnaire correlates perfectly with the number of questions answered correctly on the actual TIMSS exam.  In other words, those who persisted in answering the questionnaire questions also persisted in “figuring out” the maths questions and did better on the mathematics exam as a direct result. So if you do a thing until it is done, you will do much better on mathematics exams, but also in other arenas of life.

      It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.
      bullying in magnets

        Being nice costs you nothing. But not being nice is costing us all dearly.  There are lots of different iterations of this piece of advice, but it basically comes down to having respect for people.  Again, in our fast paced modern lives, we are often so busy that we forget to be nice.  This might be shocking to a generation gone before us, but it is true for many of us today.  And we hand this attitude right down to our own kids and then we are surprised to hear that bullying is on the rise, in the schools, in the workplace and even in old people’s homes.

        Why are we surprised?  It seems to me that what has happened here is that people have forgotten the importance of being nice and that has trickled into every institution we are part of.  School systems and other organizations are now required by law to have a “policy on bullying” and a “code of conduct”.  Why? Because we are all forgetting to be nice to such a degree that it is psychologically damaging to those around us.  One American study on the Kansas School System (see Kansas Communities That Care Survey) found that 60 percent of students reported being bullied.

        Teachers in those same schools estimated that approximately 16 percent of those students were being bullied.  That’s quite a discrepancy between what is happening and what teachers are aware of.  Some further interesting statistics on bullying include that a child is bullied every 7 seconds and that 20-30 percent of school age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either the bully or the victim.  Finally, researchers also report that 60 percent of those characterized as bullies in grades 6-9 had a least one criminal conviction by the age of 24.  So what has happened here? We are forgetting to be nice.  We are so caught up in being important, being popular and getting ahead (in the school yard and the work place) that we have completely forgotten to be nice.  This “forgetting” has long term implications for all parties involved.

        Education is no burden to carry. 

        child writing

          Doing well in school predicts how well you will do in life.  While this piece of advice likely brings to mind the wonderful work of author and film maker, Dionne Brand, this is advice that is not just for women and not just for black women.  My parents used to say when I was going to school, “Study hard.  Learn a lot”.  So while perhaps this is less eloquent than Education is no burden to carry, in many ways, it makes the same point.  The more you know, the farther you’ll go.  The better we educate ourselves, our children, our society, the more opportunities we will have.

          When you are a child and looking out the window of your classroom on a sunny day, it might feel like school and studying are a burden.  But the fact of the matter is that doing well in school predicts how well you will do in life.  The longer you stay in school, the higher your intellectual skills will be.  Research has shown that people who score well on IQ tests have more successful jobs, earn more money, and are even happier and healthier.  So while we all know examples of famous and successful people who did well in life, we should remember that these are exceptions to the rule, they are not the norm.  For most of us, if you get your head down and work hard in school, you will have a more successful life and you will be happier and healthier too.  So education is not a burden.  It is a path to success.

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          Never go anywhere without a good book. 

          KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

            It has been shown in a number of studies that people who read a lot have better developed vocabularies and perform better on cognitive tasks (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998).  The pioneering work of Todd Risley and colleagues has shown us that exposure to a greater number of words through speech and reading has major implications for increasing your later life’s success.  Also, on a practical note, you never know when you are going to be stuck in a queue at the bank or doctors office so in the spirit of modern day multi-tasking, let’s use that time to our advantage.  In fact, go one step further—enjoy that time!

            Don’t look for love in a bar.  Look for love in a library.

            Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

              Ok, so this one is probably not one you have heard before.  In fact, the only mother I ever knew who imparted this wisdom was my own.  Being a librarian herself, it would only have made sense to her to take someone seriously if you knew that they were interested in learning and books.  But this advice actually makes sense on a number of levels, and not just for book lovers.  In days of yore in the Western world, and also in some modern non-Western cultures, marriages were arranged based on what would best serve each family and people only married those people that were acceptable and accepted by their individual families and within their own social structure.  People who got married came from similar cultures with similar value systems and you know what? More often than not, these marriages worked.

              So now with all our new fangled notions of romance and freedom, and with all the choice that comes with that, we find ourselves in the modern world of more complex and cosmopolitan marriages, many of which could certainly not be called traditional.  So we have now got a lot of choice and people are not compelled to doing what culture, society or religion has dictated.  For the most part this is a good thing, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  There is a problem with this modern and advanced system too.  We have moved so far away from where we have come, that we don’t know what the value system is anymore. This is the problem.  One way to counteract this new system full of choice, surprises, and different ways of thinking is to seek out people with shared interests and values.  So whether that might be at the tennis club, the church or the library, it seems that seeking out a partner who shares your passions and ideals is a good idea.  Another good idea is to avoid being inebriated when you make these important decisions!

              Don’t make such a song and dance about everything.

                
              horse and buggy going uphill

                The way we interpret a problem influences how we deal with it.   This adage might be a useful tip for parents or teachers who are tired of hearing everything little thing that happened, every wrongful accusation and every crime done unto their little ones.  Of course, it should be remembered that kids need to vent their woes and they need someone to listen to them.  They need to know that how they think and feel about things matters.  But here’s the kicker, the way we interpret an event influences how we go forward.

                How do some people face severe adversity and trauma and come through to the other side as successful and productive human beings? It definitely has to do with how resilient that person is, but it probably also has something to do with the way they interpreted the situation in the first place.  It has to do with how they “told their story” and if they made the trauma/adversity the central feature of the rest of their lives’ story then they can remain stuck there and cannot move on.  If, on the other hand, the trauma was only one part of a greater life story and if it was interpreted as a “mountain I must climb” rather than “something I cannot accept or cannot overcome”, then it is very likely that person is still engaged with the trauma, rather than moving on to the next chapter.

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                Of course, I am in no way minimizing trauma or adversity.  Horrible and painful things happen every day and these stories need to be told.  But know this – how you write the story will dictate the next chapter.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) practitioners view suffering as universal and report that the primary cause of human suffering is the intrusion of language into areas where it is not functional (see Hayes, Strosahl & Wilson 1999).  In other words, if we “think trauma” all the time, this is not functional and it is not helpful and it will not move us forward.  Rather, we can get stuck here because our mind tells us “this is trauma” and we react accordingly.  So it is our interpretation of the event, rather than the event itself that causes the situation to seem unbearable.  So it seems like the old adage, Don’t make such a song and dance about it, is a helpful one as it may help us to move on from difficult situations in life by reminding us not to get wrapped up in every single event in our lives.

                Don’t argue with fools or drunks.

                argument on street

                  If someone is very drunk or very foolish, the chances are, they may not be making sense.  So you could make some very well thought out and meaningful contributions to an argument.  In fact, hands down, you could win that argument! But what difference will it make?  Someone with very little intellectual capacity (whether that be related to too much alcohol or intellectual disadvantage) may not understand or remember your golden nuggets of truth.  So don’t waste your time.  Grab a good book instead.

                  Respect yourself.

                  parents holding childrens hands

                    We all hear about boundaries and how we need to set them for children.  Rules and boundaries are useful for a number of reasons when you are working with small children, but they are also important for the parents themselves.  In the 1960’s,

                    Psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted some research on parenting and parenting styles which is still widely considered to be of paramount importance in the parenting literature.  Baumrind suggested that there are three main types of parenting.  These types were authoritarian, authoritative and permissive.  Macoby and Martin added a fourth type (un-involved) in 1983.  Time and time again, the authoritative type of parenting has yielded the best outcomes for children in relation to academic and social and emotional success.

                    This is largely down to the fact that this type of parenting involves rules and guidelines to be followed, but parents continue to be warm and supportive.  This type of parenting lets children know where they stand, what is expected of them and what will happen if they fail to comply, but it also models compassion, flexibility and respect.  So these parents are respectful of their own children and respectful of their own needs as people too.  So they are modelling the very type of behavior that they expect and in so doing, teaching their children to treat people (and rules) with respect.  Because children of authoritative parents know what the rules are, they are also more likely to recognize when those same rules are being broken later on in life when they are involved in friendships, romantic relationships and when they are involved professionally with work colleagues.  So these same children will have the confidence to respectfully decline to be involved with people who treat them poorly as they grow into their adult selves.

                    Eat your vegetables.

                    vegetables

                      Eating well not only makes you healthier, it makes you smarter!  Well we all know that what you eat makes a difference to your weight, but why else should we eat our vegetables?  Well, my Dad often told me that eating carrots would help me to see in the dark.  It’s nearly 40 years later and I still don’t have night vision! But that aside, good nutrition which includes a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats seems to be a common theme even in the faddy diets of celebrities and superstars.  Why is this?  What properties or health benefits does having a healthy and balanced diet confer upon us?

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                      It turns out that eating well isn’t just about our waistline and it’s not just about physical health.  Eating well can also support your brain health.  It can stimulate intellectual development in a way that the fast food life style just cannot support.  One study, led by Arthur Agatson (cardiologist and creator of the popular South Beach diet) has published findings (along with colleagues Hollar, Messiah, Lopez-Mitnik, T Hollar & Almon) showing that improving the nutritional quality of school meals bolstered the academic performance of students over a two year period, in addition to lowering their weight and blood pressure.  Mathematics scores also improved for this group.  So eating healthy is not just important for your physical health, but it is also important for your brain health and academic development.

                      Don’t drive there when you can walk there.

                      girls playing soccer

                        Being physically healthy is good for you body and mind. It is pretty commonly known now that we all need to exercise more.  But this does not have to mean a gym membership.  There are many things that we can do in our every-day lives to increase our cardiac activity and one of these is walking places, instead of driving, whenever possible.  This also includes taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

                        But what evidence is there that there is a connection between how much we exercise and our overall health and well being?  In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines surrounding physical fitness for Americans.  These guidelines called for adults between the ages of 18 and 64 to exercise moderately for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week or to exercise vigorously for at least an hour and 15 minutes weekly.  This Department reported that the longer, harder and more often you exercise, the greater the physical health benefits including decreasing risk of cancer and diabetes.  Studies have shown that those who engage in the recommended amount of exercise live an average of three to seven years longer than those who do not.

                        A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people aged 50 years or older, with memory problems, scored higher on cognitive tests after a 6 month work-out regimen.  This result was 20 percent higher than their sedentary peers and a 10 percent edge was still measured one year after the trial ended.  Thus, exercising helps both your body and your mind. 

                        So where does this leave us? While I don’t advise people to believe everything they hear or everything they read, it looks like lots of the stuff our parents have been telling us is actually true.  And if you don’t believe me, I suggest you go ask your mother.

                        mother and child at lake

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                          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                          How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

                          How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

                          There will always be times in your life when you may need to learn how to reinvent yourself. This could come when you experience a big change, such as leaving your job, moving on from a relationship, transferring to a new home, or losing a loved one. If you are going through a major shift in your life, you may have to find new ways of thinking or doing things, or risk failing to reach your full potential.

                          “When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

                          Many people who dared to leave their old unhappy lives enabled themselves to pursue their passions and find a renewed zest for living. You can also achieve the same if you take a leap of faith and make things happen for yourself.

                          To help you always be at your best wherever you may be in your life, here are some practical tips on how to reinvent yourself.

                          The Reinvention Checklist

                          Before embarking on a journey of self-reinvention, you need to make sure that you have everything that you need to make the trip bump-proof. These things include:

                          Resilience

                          Problems and obstacles are guaranteed to happen. Some of them will be difficult and may knock you off course; the important thing, however, is that you learn from these difficulties, never lose focus, and always get back up. This requires building resilience to get through the tough times.

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                          Support

                          Humans are social beings. Although it is important that you learn to rely on yourself when facing any challenge, it is also important to have a support team that you can lean on to give you a boost when things get too tough and to correct you when you’re making mistakes.

                          The key is to find the right balance between independence and dependence. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share the difficulties you’re facing. When you open up, you’ll find the people who are really going to be there for you.

                          Self-Care

                          During the process of learning how to reinvent yourself, you will have to pull yourself away from your old comfort zones, habits, roles, and self-perceptions. This can be difficult and cause you to question your self-worth, so it’s important to engage in self-care to maintain a positive outlook and keep your mind and body healthy as you face the challenges that await you. Self-care can include:

                          • Participating in a hobby you enjoy
                          • Spending time with your support system
                          • Taking some time to walk in nature
                          • Practicing loving-kindness meditation

                          Find what works for you and what helps you feel like your true self as you seek a reinvented version of you.

                          How to Reinvent Yourself

                          Once you’re sure that you’re equipped with all the tools in the self-reinvention checklist, you can begin your journey of learning how to reinvent yourself.

                          1. Discover Your Strengths

                          This step provides valuable information on how you deal with certain situations. If you have this information, you will be able to manage difficulties more efficiently.

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                          To find out what your strengths are, you can ask your friends and colleagues for feedback, engage in self-reflection, or try these 10 Ways to Find Your Own Personal Strengths.

                          2. Plan

                          This step calls for a thorough assessment of your current emotional, psychological, and financial status so that you can develop plans that are realistic and practical.

                          It’s okay to have ambitious dreams, but your plans have to be realistic. Making use of SMART goals can help you plan your life better.

                          You can also consult your mentor or life coach for practical tips and advice.

                          Ultimately, you’ll want to create specific long-term and short-term goals that you can create milestones for. By doing this, you’ll lay out a specific roadmap to your reinvented self.

                          3. Try Things Out

                          Sometimes, we don’t know if solutions actually work until we try them out. This is why it is important to experiment whenever possible, especially if you’re dealing with a career change. You may need to simply experiment in order to find the things you like. This can be the same with hobbies. If you’re not sure what you would like doing, accept invitations from friends to join them in their favorite sport or take a class, like pottery or photography.

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                          By seeing what’s out there in any area of your life, you’ll have a better chance of finding the things you enjoy and the goals you want to create.

                          4. Manage Your Finances Well

                          Changes may require a bit of money. If you’re shifting to a new career, you may have to pay for training. If you’re going through a tough divorce or having a hard time dealing with the death of a loved one, you may have to pay for therapy. If you’re moving to a new home, you’ll definitely have to pay a whole lot of expenses.

                          All of these things are possible, but it will require a bit of money savviness as you learn how to reinvent yourself. If you have that cushion, you’ll feel more comfortable straying from your current path to try new things.

                          5. Muster Your Courage

                          Fears and self-doubt may arise when you encounter difficulties and setbacks. Sometimes, they may also come when you’re taking risks. You have to manage these negative emotions well and not allow them to discourage you. Tap into your courage and try doing at least one new thing each week to develop it.

                          Learn how to deal with your self-doubts to move forward in this article: How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It)

                          6. Use Your Support Group

                          As stated above, you need to build a strong support group before you even start the process of reinventing yourself. Your group will keep you from taking wrong turns and encourage you when you get too weighed down by problems. Don’t be afraid to call them, or even ask them out for coffee if you need to vent about the current difficulties you’re facing.

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                          7. Remind Yourself Every Day of Your Commitment

                          Write your goals on different-sized cards and scatter them at home and at work in places where you can easily see them. This way, you will constantly be reminded of where you want to be. Remember, writing down your goals helps them stick[1].

                          8. Accept Failure, Learn, and Resume Your Journey

                          Failing is normal, especially when we’re trying out something new. When you fail, simply recognize it, learn from it, and move on. Failure, in the end, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work, and you simply won’t be able to learn how to reinvent yourself if you don’t accept the inevitable failures that await you.

                          Final Thoughts

                          If you truly want to learn how to reinvent yourself and live the life you desire, take the advice above and start taking action. It will take time, patience, and plenty of effort to make the change you want happen, but it will be all worth it.

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                          Featured photo credit: Ashley Rich via unsplash.com

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