Do you believe?

“Whether you think you can — or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

This beloved self-help adage makes sense to me. They’re words to live by for sure. 

But could we extend that saying to how we treat our kids? Whether you think your kids can or can’t (do something), you’re right!

As we move into back-to-school season, that time of year when we send our babies into the world to achieve things, to prove themselves, to learn, to make us proud, I’m reminded that we ask a lot of our kids.

These days, kids are reading before kindergarten, starting pre-algebra in early elementary school and practicing ACT/SAT tests in middle school (really, they are)! And, of course, in high school they’re knocking out college classes to save their parents money on tuition.  

Hold up, already! Right?

Well, maybe not.

In this month’s magazine, our annual Back to School issue, we have two fascinating articles that speak to the perceptions many of us have about kids. One addresses parents’ tendency to protect their children from failure — and why it’s a bad idea at just about any age. 

Another is the story of a local math teacher who tricked her below-average students into thinking they were above average at math. And guess what? They outperformed her top students just because they believed they could! 

Isn’t that mind blowing?

The truth is, our kids are highly capable. In my household, I’m so often late to the game in realizing how grown up and capable my 10-year-old really is! It’s just easier sometimes to enable him to be the little boy I have frozen in my mind. 

In reality, he’s an upper classman in elementary school. And what he’s able to master as this age is very much determined by what his parents and teachers think
he can do. 

Knowing what I know now, I’m committed to staying open to “opportunities for failure” so my son can grow even more (and prepare for the realities of adulthood), while also feeling more confident that he can accept more challenges than I often give him. 

No, I don’t want him to grow up too fast. But I also want him to be ready to meet a world that deals out its share of higher-stakes disappointments — and does expect more, whether I like it or not.