"My kid is terrible in Math." "George is brilliant, he just freezes on tests." "She just never pays attention." "He's a little devil." "You can't trust that one." "He's not creative." "She can't...." "He can..." These are actual phrases I've heard. A lot.
As a parent, I considered myself lucky to have kids who didn't struggle in school. When presented with a problem- they figured it out, asking for help as necessary.
As a teacher, I watched my students attack assignments. The methods of approach were interesting...some said it was "too hard" and gave up right away, others, with that "deer in headlights" look, sat there expecting step by step answers to their dilemmas, while still others saw the challenge, and stepped up to the plate ready to take it on. Nature? Or nurture?
As a tutor, I got paid a lot of money to help kids sort things out. What I found to be true was that some have a greater proclivity for certain subject matter, but that was not necessarily the deciding factor on whether or not they did well.
Those who were convinced they were "bad in Math" or "terrible test takers" or "not creative" settled on that as a fact. And it proved true. Others thought (sometimes without much evidence) that they were great at something. And those kids took on the task as if they were. Eventually, those thoughts became truth. When we would shift the "I can't" mindset to "I can", and not expect perfection, magical things happened.
There are a myriad of studies to prove this. I have become expert in instilling in the kids I taught the "can do" attitude.
That being said, I was less than stellar as a parent. Inadvertently, unthinkingly, we tagged our own kids:
My daughter was 'not good in Math". And she believes that to this day - even though she was treasurer for numerous clubs in grammar, high school, and college. My oldest son was a scholar - even though his grades may not have always born this fact to be true - his younger brother was not. They both lived up to our expectations (graduating 2nd in class; being "uninvited" from college). And the "baby" was "the baby". Gotta love him.
Luckily, we didn't need to be perfect. All our children grew up to be fine, upstanding members of society - not without struggles along the way. I know that I had a part in some of those struggles. I also know that I gave them the tools they needed to overcome them.
Older, and wiser, I am much better at watching my mouth - at least when it comes to this.
Mary Kerwin is an expert when it comes to helping kids to develop the confidence and self-esteem skills that they need to thrive now, and grow into happy, confident, successful adults.
And educator, and both a Certified Health Coach and Wisdom Coach®, her life’s work has been in Education. Her mission is to help children develop the confidence and skills they need to grow into their fullest potential. She is committed to helping children shine, overcome obstacles, and live the life of their dreams.