I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.
I am so not on the self-esteem bandwagon. When did we start giving every kid a trophy and think that would build self-esteem? Really, who thought of that?
Finley got a letter in the mail yesterday. He’s in 10th grade and his teachers had to write something positive about him. They called it a “positive progress report.”
I understand the thought behind it. As a swim coach, I’ve actually done this with my varsity teams – writing a letter to each girl, sending it in the mail to their home, telling them what I appreciate about them. Nobody told me to do it. The funny thing about this exercise was that it benefited me probably more than the girls. I struggled to come up with things to say about some of the swimmers, but, in the end, found something that was true and positive about each one. It was good for me to recognize that each one has strengths.
Self-esteem comes from who you have in your life. How you were raised. What you struggled with as a child.
We had fun with Finley’s positive report. I read it to him while he was driving, but said what I thought the teacher really wanted to say.
I read to Fin, “I’m still upset with you that I gave you the band award in 8th grade and then you dropped out of band.”
He laughed, “Yeah, I think she is.”
I believe that, while well-roundness is important, sometimes, when kids choose what they’re really passionate about and want to pursue that with gusto, it’s okay to give up other activities.
His history teacher said, “Fin is a pleasure to have in class.”
I read, “Fin is a pleasure to have in class because he is quiet while he sleeps and doesn’t disrupt.” Fin tells me often that he finds that class boring.
He snorted, “Did she really say that?”
“Part of it,” I answered. “I’ll let you guess which part.”
“That class is sooo boring!” he stated predictably.
“Mr. G. says you have a great sense of humor,” I told Fin. I was glad someone recognized something individual about my child.
“We laugh a lot in that class,” he said.
“Mrs. D. says you have a future in programming,” I said. Yes, another teacher that opted for more than “Great job in class!”
“Ugh! I don’t really want to do that,” he said, then added, “Wait, did she really say that?” She’s a tough teacher and not overly abundant in her praise.
“Here’s what she wrote, ‘Excellent programmer — I see a career path.'”
He nodded approvingly. Praise from her really meant something to him.
“What about Ms. S and biology?” he asked.
“She didn’t write anything,” I told him.
He made a face, so I reminded him, “She nominated you for that award. Remember?”
A few days prior, in the mail, we had received a notification about an award nomination for Fin, and it stated the teacher who had named him. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
When we got home, Fin grabbed the paper and looked through it. He smiled, reading all the comments.
Maybe a positive progress report isn’t such a bad thing.
It helps his self-esteem