Give It a Try: Getting started with help from your inner coach

My son is starting off his year as a 7th grader with a focus on mindset. His Core Teacher (English and History combined) is laying a valuable foundation for students by talking about the importance of building skills by letting yourself try things out and make mistakes.

This teacher is using the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds, a story about finding your inner creativity and overcoming internal roadblocks. The girl in the story firmly believes that she can’t draw, but she follows her teacher’s suggestion of

drawing a dot on her paper. Taking this small initial step actually leads the girl to valuable and unexpected places and helps her overcome her fixed mindset.

My son came home with an assignment to create his own picture in the spirit of The Dot. And just like the girl in the book, he struggled with getting started and with his own inner roadblocks. He wanted to draw something related to a favorite sports team but didn’t have the right colors to represent the team. We talked about not expecting things to be perfect, but instead finding a way to get started and work with whatever you have.

We can help kids overcome inner obstacles that come with perfectionism and self-doubt. One effective approach is to use the concept of Inner Critic and Inner Coach. The Inner Critic is that voice of negativity telling you to give up because you’re not good or smart or talented enough.

The antidote to this is the Inner Coach, a voice that provides positive self-talk about the need to get started, not worry about the outcome, and believe in yourself. The Inner Coach tells you to give it a try and see what happens next.

The Zones of Regulation curriculum, developed by Leah Kuypers, includes a lesson called Inner Critic and Inner Coach, with useful tips and ways to present these ideas to your child. 

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