This fall I took on another position- as the assistant coach to my 12 year old daughter’s basketball team. It’s not a competitive league; the purpose is to introduce the game and teach fundamentals. Last week after practice, the head coach complimented one of the new players. He told her how much she has improved and that she had a natural ability as a player. To my surprise (and displeasure) the little girl shook her head and said, “No I don’t. I’m just not good.” Before I could say a word, the coach jumped in and showered her with words of encouragement. As he spoke positivity over her, I could see her face transform. She began to stand taller, hold her head higher, and a smile appeared across her lips. That simple exchange between a little girl and her coach may have changed the trajectory of this child’s self image.
Last week, I was talking to a fellow school-based SLP. She shared a story about one of her students. The SLP was supporting her student in the regular classroom while the general education teacher led a math lesson. The classroom teacher called on the student, but the child was unable to process the information and express her thoughts to solve the problem. The SLP continued to work with the student, and in time, the student was able to solve the problem independently. When the student answered correctly, the SLP said to her, “See I knew you could do it! Now I just need to you to show Mrs. XX that you can do it too!” The next part of the story really touched my heart, my colleague said her student started to cry and gave her a big hug. That little girl just needed someone to believe in her and encourage her.
Sometimes we forget that children need to be encouraged too. We can use our words to build a child’s esteem or to destroy it. Let’s choose our words wisely and help to encourage a child!