So many of us underestimate the severe consequences of not believing in our children. On the other hand, we undervalue the incredible advantages of believing in our children as well.
I got a bit embarrassed. I was the only person who raised my left hand, and so I lowered it quickly hoping nobody saw.
It was too late. All eyes were already on me.
“Oh, Pam! Her kids are wonderful. They are geniuses.” The speaker for the parent seminar identified me from the audience. But why am I the only one out of hundreds who thought that the kids are great?
In fact, at that time, my son was having a lot of trouble in school. The speaker himself had thought that my son was a special needs and one of the first to ask me to bring him for psychological tests.
You see, it does not matter how my kids are or what other people think. My kids are the best thing that has happened to my entire life. And, I think it is because I believe in them that they don’t want to disappoint me. So, they try to become better and better. And because they want to become better, I believe them even more. Yup, it is a catch-22. A good one. One that spirals upwards.
When Old Boy was about seven, something felt wrong. He was always absent minded, dreamy and he failed to do any of his homework. He loses five water bottles a week, and his PE T-shirt every other day.
I was worried and devoured every literature I could get my hands on to try to learn and solve the problems. There were suggestions that he had learning disabilities. I was worried and devastated initially, but I decided I had to choose a route.
So, I went the opposite way from most parents. Instead of believing that something was wrong with him, that he needed to fix his long list of weaknesses, I decided to look for that one thing that he was really good at, and work on it.
At that time, I just thought that if I keep believing he is gifted, he will become so. Well, even if he is not, even if he is the opposite of giftedness, there is nothing to lose. I knew I would raise him exactly the same way, anyway.
After that, I went about looking for resources to help him learn. In the early 2000s, there was no resources on the internet. There was no online schools nor were there free MOOCs. I wrote to schools in different countries to see if they could send me their school books. In the end, I found resources that really helped, resulting him him entering university at 14.
For each of my five children, I did exactly the same thing. I put their weaknesses aside temporarily (to the horror of many educators and psychologists) and work on their strengths until they believe so much in themselves, they are inspired to do things well.
In the end, all my five kids finished university before they turned 18. Some of my kids have now worked several years. Looking back, I think I did the right thing in choosing to believe in them even before they even prove themselves, before the world believe they were somebodies.
In an education that constantly focuses on our students’ weaknesses so as to fix them, I chose the other way. I chose to focus on my children’s strengths, boost their self-esteem and motivation, and then deal with weaknesses when things are more relaxed.
It has worked wonders not only for my kids, but also the students who choose to journey with the school I founded. Our programs focus on not only on developing academic learning, but inner strength as well. I always tell parents that if they can tell me just one, just ONE good thing about their child, I am confident I can make them geniuses.
Fortunately, many parents can, so we have made many children into geniuses in their own ways. But that’s not important. What’s important is that they find happiness and purpose in their education, confidence in doing what they are good at, and strength in handling challenges.
The next time someone asks you about your child, think about that one thing they are so good at, and then say that they are wonderful. After that, sit back and watch how that little prophecy you made gets self-fulfilled. They will be wonderful.