Let’s look inside of a child’s mind and see how they feel when they receive a failing grade. When asked, a lot of them say “ I feel like I am a failure.” “I am nothing.”
“I am not good at _________.” Some of them strongly believe that their skills in that particular subject are fixed and won’t change with time and effort.
What should we as parents do? Should we comfort or punish our kids? What measures should we take to prevent them from failing again?
In her TED Talk, Carol Dweck, a Stanford Professor talks about one school in Chicago that invented a powerful way to grade those who failed. The grade was not F. Instead, they used two words: “Not Yet.”
I find it so powerful! In my private practice, kids often say to me they are not good at reading.
And I say “Not Yet!” I see how their faces change when they hear the “Not Yet” part.
“Do you mean I can improve?”
“Of course, you can improve! You are on a learning path, and if you struggle with reading right now, it does not mean it will stay like this.”
“Will you show me what to do to improve?” they ask.
“Definitely. Let’s start with you saying: I am not good at reading yet, but I am working towards it.” And it all goes from there.
I also coach adults and help them prepare for exams like GMAT, LSAT, etc.
Often they say: “I am just not good at taking tests” and I tell them “Not Yet.” One lady Michelle said yesterday that she knew she had to stop saying “I am not good at test taking”, but thought that she would have to replace it with a cheesy: “ I am good at test taking” mantra. Michelle liked her new mantra “I am not good at test taking YET!” much better. She even repeated it out loud as she was leaving my office with a smile on her face.
If you find yourself saying: “I am not good at Spanish!” “I am bad at math.” “It’s hard for me to focus.” “I am not good at eating right.”
Change that to:
“I am not good at Spanish YET!”
“I am not good at math YET!”
“I am not good at being focused YET.”
“I am not good at eating right YET!”
The “Yet” or “Not Yet” gives kids and adults greater confidence; gives them a path into the future. A path where they show greater persistence and effort.