What To Say When Your Child Thinks They’re Not Good Enough

A teacher’s method of maintaining kids’ confidence.

It is a heartbreaking conversation to have when a child’s eyes fill with tears or they look downcast and say that they’re stupid, or that they “can’t do anything.” You can feel it in your gut when they feel that they don’t measure up — it’s akin to the feeling when you can’t get the moves in Zumba, or your boss is going over numbers for the business and you’ve no idea what they’re talking about!

It seems that some people are good at everything. While this is not the case, it’s easy for these kids to think that EVERY one else in the class can do something except them.

This is when a conversation about individual strengths is useful. There is a tool used in the teaching profession names Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Howard Gardner of Harvard University outlines eight different types of intelligences including musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Or, in kids’ terms: music smart, art smart, words smart, number smart, body smart, people smart, self smart or nature smart.

Give your child a list of all the types of intelligences and discuss what sorts of skills and attributes are associated with each.

Have them list their top three ‘smarts’ and give reasons why. It might be an idea to make a list for the fridge, or their bedroom wall or even the inside of their lunchbox. Make it a big deal! Celebrate all the things they’re good at to make sure they realise that maths, or spelling, or whatever it is, isn’t the be all and end all.

Emphasise that everyone has their own unique combination of intelligences, and that they should be proud of themselves.

Tell them that next time they feel like they aren’t good at something, they can remember this conversation and feel happy in the knowledge that they have their very own smarts. A healthy dose of recognition for what they do well will give them the confidence to persevere with working on their limitations.


Originally published at www.penningtoneducation.com.