The Psychological Aspects of Testing
Freeing Your Child’s Achievement Mechanism
All children like to work hard. However, kids are similar to their adult counterparts in that they will always try to accomplish the easiest of a set of tasks first.
Each child has something within her which we at BeatTheTest call the Achievement Mechanism. The Achievement Mechanism is a psychological, as opposed to a physical, mechanism. This mechanism can be turned on or off by the child. We have seen that once the mechanism is turned off (as described in the Crab Bucket Syndrome), it is very hard for it to be turned back on again without a strong kick-start.
The Achievement Mechanism, when operated properly, will enable your child to achieve goals that they set for themselves. As a parent, you can stoke your child’s Achievement Mechanism or you can crush it. A lot of parents, contrary to popular belief, crush their children’s Achievement Mechanism by overly criticizing them and by comparing them too often to other children.
Most parents crush their child’s Achievement Mechanism by overly criticizing her faults. Extreme examples are parents with military backgrounds (including auxiliary service). Many military parents are unaware that the constant psychological breakdown of the soldier is necessary for a soldier to enter combat. These parents fail to understand that smart people run when confronted with combat; it is the idiot who charges up a hill to shoot someone who has a more advantageous position. Ex-military parents often run a military barracks for a home, where the parents are generals and the children are low IQ foot soldiers. Children have set activity times and set chores. Time schedules are overemphasized. Meals are rationed. Everything the child does is criticized. Physical aspects of the child are never correct. Clothes seem to be rumpled. Hair always appears to be unkempt. The intent of all this criticism is to break the child’s individuality down so that she can be prepared for the cruel world outside. We hate to remind these types of parents that your child is very aware of how the world outside works. They can see it on television or read about it in the newspaper. What we recommend is to lighten up and accept that your kids are not soldiers under your command. Many top colleges are filled with above average IQs and your child will not do well there if all you can do is constantly criticize her.
But worse than excessive criticism are the comparisons parents make to other children. Why cannot you be as smart as your sister Jennifer or be as good in math as your brother Roger? Why cannot you be as witty as Vincent next door? Why aren’t you as mature and tall as your cousin Baraka? Your child cannot be like other children because they do not share their genetic makeup or their life experiences. When it comes to other people’s children, the reality is that they have a different set of parents than your children do.
Children do not like to be compared to other children. They do not compare you to other parents. The reason is simple; they have accepted you as their guardian and there is nothing a child can do to change that. Excessive criticism and excessive comparison has a tendency to inhibit and eventually shut down the Achievement Mechanism. So we highly recommend that you avoid these behaviors.
Children need to set long-term goals to keep their Achievement Mechanism going. They are not able to imagine college, let alone graduate school, by themselves. They are just too young. But they can understand the steps necessary for health, happiness and wealth. If you tell your children not to work hard now, they will not work hard later. Many parents are shocked at the level of success Asian-American students have in school, and are remiss to admit that these children must have set goals that their parents want them to achieve.
The Achievement Mechanism can only be kick started by:
Setting realistic long-term goals
Letting your child take the steps (and also make the mistakes)
Encouragement and guidance.
Setting Realistic Long-Term Goals
As a parent, you need to set realistic goals for your children. These goals must be high, but attainable. Encouraging your child to go to college when they reach the age of 18 is a realistic achievable goal. Setting the goal of getting into Princeton University at the age of 16 is a ridiculously high goal that few (if any) children in the United States can achieve.
A parent needs to teach his child to imagine achieving that goal. Remind her when she is having breakfast that she needs to go to college . Remind her of it when she does well in school. This can also be referred to as the power of suggestion. Suggest to your children what they can achieve by just working hard. This emphasis in the home will not damage your children when they become adults.
Think about the dreams you had when you were hungry just a few hours ago. You may have dreamt of a chocolate bar or a bowl of ice cream or a piece of lasagna. Suddenly you heard your stomach rumble. This is the sound of gastric juices being released into your stomach and your stomach anticipating food coming down your esophagus. Your body reacted as if it had a bowl of ice cream in front of you. Just as you can fool your body about food, you can also trick your brain into seeing and feeling things.
Fear of being at a large university with children that they did not grow up with is absolutely frightening for the average teenager. This imagined fear then becomes a strong bulwark that they cannot overcome; consequently, they convinced themselves that they could not do well.
Now you the test taker, need to convince yourself that you will succeed on standardized exams.
You need to close your eyes and think about the exam. In your dream, you will see yourself checking off the exam question answer sheet. And you will visualize the BeatTheTest logo in the bottom right hand corner. You will imagine yourself being calm and doing the math on your scratch paper. You will then imagine yourself filling in the boxes of the answer sheet. You will imagine your school assistant principal or guidance counselor congratulating you on how well you did.
You say to yourself that you are not good in math. That is no excuse. It is not as if you are five feet tall and are being asked to dunk a basketball. Imagine yourself teaching word problems to a classroom of fifth graders. Show them how to multiply and divide correctly, and then prove your answers to them.
After you have finished with the fifth grade class, teach a sixth grade class. Remember, you are teaching them in your head. The kids are waiting to hear the tricks and secrets from you. You are their teacher and their guide. Do not fail them!!!
Now visulaize teaching a class of eighth and ninth graders. Visualize them asking you how you solved for X. Why does a triangle have only one hundred and eighty degrees? Explain this to them. Once you let your Achievement Mechanism free, your imagination will flourish. Always remind yourself that you can achieve whatever you dream.
Help your daughter imagine success by bringing stories of people like her who have achieved amazing things. Our media are replete with stories of women who have done extraordinary things. Show her pictures of teachers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, judges and bankers that are women. In today’s day and age, we have tons of successful women of all shapes and colors. This will help your daughter correlate success with hard work. Once your child learns to appreciate hard work, she will like it. You will have turned on her Achievement Mechanism.
Show your son images of Ronald Reagan or even Bill Clinton. These two men have achieved amazing things on their own. They did not come from wealthy families. Some would even argue that they did not even have full time parents. So imagine what your kids can do with both parents and our BeatTheTest standardized test preparation guides.
Let Your Child Take The Steps
Your child has to take the steps to success. No amount of parenting can help a child achieve goals that they are unwilling to achieve. As a parent, you need to guide them to success. At the same time, you will need to give them room to figure things out for themselves. Your children will make mistakes. Let them make them and own up to them. Children do not have instinct to rely on like animals in the wild. They can only learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, that is the only way they will learn. By making mistakes, your child will take ownership of their goals. They will value their successes far more when they fully appreciate their failures.
Do not hyperbolize their failures. There are a lot of people in this world who have achieved amazing things after falling flat on their faces. Their failures are not their parents’ failures. At the same time, parents must not relive their youth vicariously through their children. Parents are not going to school; their children are.
Encouragement And Guidance
In closing, we want to repeat that your child must want to get into a top college. She must assess her weaknesses (whether it is in math or English) and build a set of attainable goals. She must stoke her Achievement Mechanism by imagining success. Help her learn how to visualize success. She must have the end goal of wanting to go to college. The intermediate steps are up to her.
Sit down with your child and map her goals out. We have suggested a few to get you started. You can fill in the rest with your child.
Life goals that I want my child to achieve:
1.Get into a top college
5.Take IVY Medical School Review or IVY Law School Review
6.Graduate from college
Steps that my child will need to take in order to achieve each of the above goals:
1.Get into a top college
2.Buy BeatTheTest 1200 Review Books
3.Take the 1300 Review or IVY Verbal Review
4.Improve math and English skills
Steps that I (the parent) will do to guide my child correctly
1.Buy BeatTheTest study guides
2.Stay out of their way when they make mistakes
3.Remind them to do homework assignments
4.Review homework assignments using BeatTheTest.Com
5.Use the BeatTheTest.Com website to help me be a better nurturer
Avoid The Crab Bucket Syndrome
Children need to avoid the ignoramuses in their lives. In addition, parents need to teach children how to avoid the crab bucket syndrome as much as they can. Crabs, when they are placed in a bucket, will prevent other crabs from jumping out of the bucket. Some kids do not want you to achieve your dreams because they have not learned to activate their own Achievement Mechanism. They are happy with their lot in the crab bucket.
You do not want to be any of these things. You want people to call you “Doctor” when they address you. Or you may want to have them address you as Honorable or Madame Secretary. You may even want to have various letters next to you name, such as Esq., or MBA or Ph.D. You do not want to refer to downtown Manhattan as the “City”. You want to leave the crab buckets of suburbia. You want to go to best university in America; New York University.
Positive Self Image
Your mind can only work when you have a positive view of yourself and your capabilities. Do not worry if you are tall, fat, short, skinny, shy, etc… Life is not decided, nor will it ever be decided, for you at the age of 16 or 17. The United States is not Russia or some backward part of the developing world. You must remember these facts.
Our media sends the most twisted images to children. Children are taught they must drink this soda to be cool, have blonde hair to be considered pretty, and be really dumb to be popular. Most of the popular kids in your middle school or high school will be absolute losers in college. And guess what? They most likely will not go to college. Not only did they not buy a copy of the BeatTheTest study guide, but they really think their looks will take them places. Not!!!
Exercise And Play So You Can Sleep Eight Hours A Day
Teenagers must exercise. Get 30 minutes worth of exercise each day. Exercise allows the body to release toxins through the sweat glands. In addition, it increases neural transmitters that allow the mind to remain calm and sleep better. Furthermore, when they sleep better, they will dream more clearly. Once your child starts dreaming, her Achievement Mechanism will be turned on.
Exercise also allows your child to eat more efficiently and to burn calories more evenly throughout the day. This is important because she will be sitting in the exam room for nearly three hours. She will need to condition her body (along with her mind) for this ordeal long before she gets there.
Recommended exercise routines throughout the week for your child
1.Thirty minutes of basketball
2.Thirty minutes of soccer
3.Sixty minutes of walking
4.Fifteen minutes of jumping rope
5.Thirty minutes of running