The theory of "self fulfilling prophecy" is that if you tell a child early in their life, prior to junior high, that they are "bad, "stupid," "smart" or "talented" then that is how the child will behave. They simply rise to expectations.
I have seen occasions where a child is labeled early, by two, as naughty or bad and the idea sticks.
The parent "warns" teachers, coaches, etc. or the family talks about how horrible the behavior is, and the bad kid label stays.... Forever, until it's true.
In one instance I've watched, I told the child he was good and that he wasn't bad, he just needed help learning.
This was at 4 or 5.
I didn't know what would happened. It was an experiment.
What happened was I became his moral compass. If he didn't know right from wrong, he'd ask, and I'd give him an answer, not a beating or a screaming lecture. I'd make a joke, we'd laugh, and go on our merry ways.
Now, years later, he picks up after himself, uses please and thank you, even opens doors.... With me, but I'm still told what a bad kid he is.
I believe what I'm told. He yells at women, demanding things, threatening others, throwing things, calling names.
It breaks my heart knowing these behaviors exist within one child and the simple act of patience and compliments may make a pivotal difference.
I don't know if it would change his entire behavior, but I'm happy I get a chance to help. I'm saddened I may never know the difference it made or would make in the future.
I also know another situation where the opposite was true.
A newborn girl was expected to be severely mentally challenged with seizures and cerebral palsey. She wasn't ever supposed to be independent. The doctor told her parents, "not to expect much."
Her parents called her a miracle and convinced everybody the same until she was labeled "a miracle child."
She was dyslexic and could have been told she was disabled, stupid, and would never read or write.
Instead she was told she was different and gifted to have a unique point of view.
I know that made all the difference in her life, because that girl was me.
Thank goodness I had the parents I did, especially mom, who made me a miracle.
Happy mother's day to all mom's out there. Mom's are miracles.