Thursday, September 21, 2017

When your child knows his strengths


I went to Max's back-to-school night last week. Students had written up profiles of themselves that the homeroom teacher tacked up on a bulletin board outside the classroom. Max's read:

"I like to eat sushi and miso soup and 8 avocado rolls" (He meant 8 pieces)

"I like to read books"

"I like books about fire trucks."

"My birthday is December 10"

And most impressive of all: "Something I do very well is...make friends."

For years, I've helped Max see his strengths. That's a basic part of any parent's job description, but it's seemed extra important with a child who has physical and cognitive challenges—I don't want him to ever feel like he's lacking in any way. While we don't go overboard, because that defeats the validity of praise, we do regularly dole it out.  Dave and I rave about Max's keen sense of direction when he tells us which way to drive if we go the wrong way. We give him props for being an awesome big brother to Ben when he helps Ben out or warns him not to climb up on the kitchen chair. We praise him for knowing the answers on his homework worksheet. I tell him that he a good hair day every day.

Max's teachers have been instrumental in building up his confidence, especially his former one, Linda. "You're a smart guy!" she said to him one day years ago, and the phrase stuck. "I'm a smart guy!" Max would tell me, beaming, and he believed it.

Thing is, I rarely otherwise hear Max tooting his own horn. While Sabrina will come home gushing about acing a test or running for several miles during cross-country practice, Max doesn't yet do that. Which is why it was so heartening to stand there in the hallway of his school and read that line on the bulletin board. Yes, he really is good at making friends—Max is exceptionally personable and charming. And I was glad to know he knows it.

I was equally happy to read about his plans for the school year:




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