It is the first day of school. And the young child is full of emotion. The teacher says to the child, let’s paint a picture of your parents. After painting the picture, the child runs home to show the parents. As the child runs up to the parent, the parent says, what is it that you’ve got? The child has over the painting. The parents respond. This picture is fantastic. You are very clever. I am so proud of you. I want the world to know just how good you are. So let’s put it up in the fridge for the world to see just how clever you are. What happens is that the child now has a great big goblin to share life with. Let’s look at some scenarios with a different approach. The child returns home from school, with the painting and returns to the parent.
The parent responds with, hangs on and moves the painting to one side and hugs the child. Uh, the parent says, I am so proud of you and you are clever. And I want the world just to know how proud I am of you now. What is it that you’ve got there? The parent and the child now have a discussion about the painting and the parent compliments the painting and the child and ask the child if they would like to put it on the fridge door, because it’s pretty in the first scenario, what the parents did was to tell the child that it was clever that the child was clever and that the parent was proud of it because of what the child had achieved. In other words, implying that the child’s worth is dependent on the painting. Uh, then the parent went on to tell the child that, uh, they wanted to let the world know by putting the painting, uh, up on the fridge door.
The message, what to the child was. It is what you can achieve in life that will make you worthy. It is what you do that will make others see you in a good light. The message to the second child was that you are worthy just as you are. It is who you are, that is being loved and respected, and you don’t have to achieve anything in order to get this . The parents then went on to say that achieving things is good, but these shouldn be mixed up with your own self worth. It is, of course, always good to praise a child. If it has done its best, whatever the level it has achieved. Of course there is a balance to be had. And in these two scenarios, and I’ve taken an extreme view to drive the point home, but to all but too, but all too many of us are fearful of how we do
And what others will think. Many students when taking exams become very anxious and fear the results. If you ask them how they would feel about taking the exam, if their results were secret and known only to them, if they were not good, if they were not good, they could retake it in secret until they passed. They would usually say, I wouldn’t be afraid or worried at all. Clearly, clearly the exam is not a problem for these students. It is the fear of others knowing the results and the implication this has for them. If we knew nobody thought badly of us, then we would have little fear. It would be more of a nuisance to fail and we would deal with the consequences. We would also not weigh our own self worth by exam results. This is the fridge door goblin at its best. Okay.