A simple trick to help kids internalize their accomplishments


When I was in school I never wanted to share my test scores.  Do you remember everyone asking “Whaddya get?” and looking over your shoulder to see?  Nothing mortified me more.

The funny thing was, it wasn’t because I failed, it was because I did well. I often felt ashamed of doing well.

I didn’t know how to feel proud.

So with my children, I wait for moments when I can tell they feel proud and I simply ask them, “Do you feel proud?” I watch their faces light up and their smile get wide.  They nod.  Sometimes they giggle.

(It makes me all verklempt as Linda Richman used to say…talk amongst yourselves….)

I want them to know what that feels like and be able to tolerate it, even fully feel it.  I realize I may be doing some projection here, after all I am the one with the issue, not them.  But I recently read this article in the WSJ that re-confirmed it’s an issue for more people than just me.

The goal?  To help my kids get an accurate feeling of confidence.  Statistically, girls tend to under-estimate their confidence while boys tend to over-estimate (with exceptions, of course).  I want them both to know what it feels like to work hard, and to accomplish something, and then to feel proud.

Here’s an example.  Over the summer we visited my grandmother in Massachusetts and went to this amazing farm where we picked blueberries and fed the goats.  The goat food was for sale for $1 and we went through about 8 bags (once including the bag itself, geez goat!).  I got tired of going back and forth to the store so I sent them to the store on their own, each with a dollar bill in hand.

They ran off to find their way.  A few minutes later they came running back with big grins on their faces, bursting with pride.  They were both excited.

I knew it was one of those moments I wanted to help them capture.  So I said, “Well done!” and asked “Do you feel proud?”.  They were huffing and puffing from running.  They both looked at me and nodded happily and ran off to feed those little goats with a stronger sense of what they are capable of.


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