Words Can Inspire
Words can either encourage or demean. Here's how teachers can use words to paint successful pictures that stimulate children's optimism about their future, encouraging positive behaviors.
|by Leah Davies, M.Ed.
Regular contributor to the Gazette
December 1, 2008
Most educators can recall a teacher's comment that either encouraged or discouraged them. Positive messages foster a child's growth and are constructive, while negative messages can defeat and discourage a child. Our words can have a profound effect upon a child's attitude and behavior. A comment like, "You better do well on this test," can threaten a child's confidence. In contrast, by saying, "This is an important test, but I know each of you will do your best," can inspire children to try harder. Here are some examples of teacher comments made to children that illustrate how the right (or wrong) words can discourage or encourage:
A discouraging comment such as...
Teacher comments can have a significant impact on a child's self-esteem. Many students come to school sad and discouraged as a result of poverty, abuse or other problems. Children desperately need someone to believe in their worth and encourage them to try harder to do their best!
Jerry Moe, a renowned national speaker and prevention specialist for children at the Betty Ford Center, shared his childhood at a recent conference. His parents were alcoholics who were unavailable to help him grow and develop into a self-confident child. As an adolescent, he exhibited delinquent behaviors. One day a substitute teacher called him aside and said, "You are too good to get in trouble. I see a lovable child underneath your tough exterior. You are a valuable human being. I know you can make a contribution to this world." Mr. Moe reported that those few words turned his life around and he began to believe that he could develop into a worthwhile person.
Students with a low sense of worth dwell on their weaknesses. Teachers who search for and discover each child's strengths can contribute greatly to a child's revised self-concept. When a teacher mentions a child's strengths, he or she will most likely begin to believe he has abilities.
For example a teacher might say:
Words that paint successful pictures for children stimulate optimism about their future and thus encourage positive behaviors. If you want to inspire your students, stop and think before saying something defeating and then express the idea in a constructive, encouraging way.
Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [www.kellybear.com]. 12/02