Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

The Relationship between a Child's Hope, a Parent's Hope, and Student-Directed, Goal-Oriented Academic Instruction

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

The Relationship between a Child's Hope, a Parent's Hope, and Student-Directed, Goal-Oriented Academic Instruction

Article excerpt

Levels of hope, the pathways and agency components, were measured in 46 children and 1 of their parents. After 4 weeks of goal-oriented academic instruction, pretest-posttest results showed that children's Pathways scores increased. Parents' Hope scores were not correlated to their child's scores. Children's Agency scores were correlated to the parents' estimations.


The importance of hope in human development and achievement has been documented in the literature (e.g., Cousins, 1989; Farran, Herth, & Popovich, 1995; Menninger, 1959; Snyder et al., 1991; Stotland, 1969). Researchers (Erikson, 1982; Snyder, 1994) have theorized that childhood is a critical time during which the foundation of hope is established by age 3, with parents or guardians having a prominent role in nurturing their child's hope development. Child development theorists have purported that parents are vital to children's hope development (Erikson, 1982; Farran et al., 1995) and serve as "role models for hope in their children" (Snyder, 1994, p. 105). Children's hopefulness may be influenced by how parents perceive their own hopefulness. Retrospective studies found that high-hope children reported that their parents guided and facilitated goal-achieving strategies and taught them how to think of barriers to goals as challenges (Snyder, 1994). In other words, high-hope parents raise high-hope children. Conversely, it is theorized that low-hope parents will raise low-hope children.

Although hope is fairly stable from childhood (Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997) through adulthood (Snyder et al., 1991), evidence suggests that relationships with others and environmental factors can affect hope. Hope can be negatively affected by "some catastrophic negative event during the developmental years" (Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997, p. 109). Indeed, one study found low-hope levels in women, ages 75 to 100 years, who were under the age of 10 when they lost their mother (Westburg, 2001). Thus, it seems that childhood traumas can have long-lasting, hope-suppressing effects even into late adulthood. Research suggests, however, that hope can be increased through targeted interventions. Individual counseling (Westburg & Boyer, 1999) and a hope-based group treatment (Klausner, Snyder, & Cheavens, 2000) seemed to elevate hope levels in adults, and a Ropes Course (a 1-day adventure program that included individual growth and team-building activities) seemed to positively affect hope levels in adolescents, ages 14-18 years (Robitschek, 1996).

According to Snyder (1994), hope is related to goal setting, making plans to reach those goals, and the inner determination to put those plans into action to attain those goals. Furthermore, past successes or failures in goal attainment seem to determine a person's expectancy of future goal-related outcomes. Thus, higher hope individuals, on the basis of their subjective experience, seem to believe that they will be more successful than lower hope individuals. Even when faced with obstacles to achieving their goals, higher hope people are able to generate strategies to overcome these barriers and to seek help from others, when necessary. On the other hand, also on the basis of their subjective experiences, lower hope people tend to feel defeated when they encounter difficulties and, in some instances, give up trying to reach their goals.

Theoretical support for hope is derived from humanistic concepts. First, hope focuses on people's strengths rather than on their weaknesses and on their positive expectations of future outcomes instead of on their pessimistic ones. Similarly, "humanism is a unique hybrid of existentialism (without the pessimism), phenomenology (i.e., emphasis on understanding consciousness and human subjectivity), and the postwar American optimism of the 1950s" (Halling & Nill, as cited in Hansen, 2000, p. 22). Moreover, humanistic theories focus on the internal dynamic of healthy individuals (Neft, 2001). …

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