The movie “Little Miss Sunshine” came out a long time ago. Like 13 years ago, so for any really young listeners out there, I’m sorry. But the data says that most of us listening should have been around to remember this movie. This is the story of Olive, a beauty queen in the making, she’s 7, is funny with the underlying premise that she doesn’t look like our typical beauty queen. She’s not “beautiful”. But like a puppy who thinks they are as big as the big dogs, or any big dog who thinks they’re a lap dog;
We all are what we think we are. … Until we’re told otherwise.
So yes, I’m aware that if you dig really deep, you may be able to post a clip of me saying, “Don’t praise the action, praise the effort” – and I still think that’s mostly true, but there’s just something magical about a parents unwavering belief in their children.
Admittedly some kids never get it. They have parents who are alcoholics, who never look after anyone except themselves. And they end up raising themselves, and battling adversity which in an odd, Darwin style twist, makes them stronger and have grit, and be able to handle a lot of motivational issues.
But most of the people I meet are people in the middle. They have parents who love them and they have varying degrees of involvement with their parents. They have good memories of happy parents at report card time, and bad memories of “You’d look so good if you just put your hair up like this.”
Yes, keep an eye out for the hurtful things you say but didn’t even know you were saying. But today is about actionable advice for driven people. And I want to focus on the positive. So tell your child, “You are so smart”, and say it multiple times over the next day or two. Find ways to set them up for success, and then say, “Oh, I didn’t know that you knew so much”. Because as you repeat this, they start to believe it. And that belief can be long lasting.
I don’t believe in “Fake it till you make it”, but most likely your kid is smart. A lot smarter than we give them credit for. But there’s not just one definition of smart, or beauty, or funny, or generous. Just like Olive in the movie “little miss sunshine.” She really is beautiful in her own way even if she’s not the typical media representation. And Olive got that head start on confidence because he really, really, deep down believed that she was a beauty queen, all because she was told so.