In school, the boys are working on adjectives. Today, one of their assignments was to come up with 10 adjectives to describe themselves. It seemed fairly simple and indeed, Dorian flew through the work, writing out things like “smart” “shy” “happy” and other positive, fun adjectives.
Dante, however, stalled out after writing that he was shy and happy. “I don’t know what I am! This is too hard!”
The lesson dragged as I helped him look at some lists of words earlier in his book and Dorian helpfully suggested “grumpy” and “crazy.” Finally, with a good five adjectives left to write, Dante just wasn’t feeling any of the words in his book. He decide that he was nice and sometimes he’s silly, but what else could describe him?
I pulled out the whiteboard and started writing down random things that I thought he could use. Energetic. Funny. Artistic.
“Artistic?” He perked up a bit at that one. “Does that mean I’m good at art?” I told him it did and it was very apt for him. Then I told him that he is also very creative. He beamed and wrote the words down and we finished up our school day.
Later, in the afternoon, Dante came over to me and said, “Do you really think I’m artistic?” I assured him that he is VERY artistic. He smiled and ran off.
Tonight, at bedtime, he was busy working away in his room and came out with a new project, a matchbox man that he’d carefully colored. It was pretty clever and I said as much. He grinned at me and said, “That’s because I’m a creative and artistic kid!”
Isn’t it amazing how one or two simple words can bolster a child’s self-esteem and make him feel special? I don’t think of this often enough, but I suspect that using adjectives that really mean something (as opposed to “good” or “nice”) can make a big difference for a child. I know I’ll be using them more often.