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2 min read

Think back to your early school years. Do you have memories of being told:
  • You're really smart, you're so good at math
  • You're so helpful, I know I can always rely on you
  • You're the athletic one in the family
  • You're my little bookworm, always with your nose in a book

    For many of us, these labels have followed us around our entire lives. They're stories we've continued to tell ourselves about who we are (and who we can't be).

    • Those that were good at math and science, were often also told they're not artistic, creative, or "right-brained" (and vice versa)
    • Those that were constantly praised for being helpful are now compulsive people pleasers
    • Those that were labelled quiet, shy, or bookish have never been encouraged to join sports or other hobbies where they'd be the centre of attention because that's just not who they are

    Think about how narratives like this have limited you and all things you didn't try because you "knew" you wouldn't be good at them.

    BUT we can change this for our children.

    We can make a conscious effort to avoid labelling their behaviours, interests, or personality traits as permanent and never-changing.

    We can give them the freedom to try anything they want. We can also give them the freedom to fail, work hard, and get better.

    Author and education advisor, Sir Ken Robinson said, "Whether or not you discover your talents and passions is partly a matter of opportunity. If you’ve never been sailing, or picked up an instrument, or tried to teach or to write fiction, how would you know if you had a talent for these things?"

    Yes, every child will likely have some natural talents but we can let them discover that on their own. They might even find something they love but need to practice more than other children. That's ok too.

    As Montessori says, follow the child.

    Praise Can Still Be Helpful...

    Reading this, you might be thinking, "So what does that mean? I can never tell my child they're good at math... when they ARE good at math?"

    No, you can definitely still celebrate accomplishments and offer positive feedback.

    A better approach would be to focus your praise on your child's efforts rather than the outcome.

    For example:

    "Wow, you worked so hard on that picture." or "I can see you really enjoy basketball. You played great today".

    This, while also avoiding permanent labels, i.e. "She loves art. She’s definitely going to be an artist when she grows up." will give our children the chance to blossom, explore their interests, and develop an amazing growth mindset.

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