A while back I was checking out several schools to see which one I would send my son too. While visiting one of them, I said hello to one of the students and asked him, "How are you?
Somewhat dishearteningly, he said to me: "I'm stupid."
My response was simple and matter of fact...
"I don't believe that."
The boy went on to tell me how he had forgotten something. I
reassured him that I have forgotten many things, but that didn't make me
-nor him- stupid.
He was not convinced.
(and reasonably so)
We chatted for a few minutes. And as I got to know this kid, two
things were clear: First, he felt rather unseen and invisible. Secondly,
he was obviously very good at video games.
I knew that was my hook...
"Did you know that there's several different types of intelligence?"
I asked him. He looked at me quizzically, so I quickly leveraged the
"It turns out that people have different kinds of 'smartness.' Some
people are good at math, while others are good at reading. Some people
are good at solving problems. Most people are naturally smart with some
things, but other things require more effort and hard work for them to
be smart at.
It sounds to me like you're smart at video games. And whether you
realize it or not, that is going to be VERY helpful to you later on in
"Really?" he asked optimistically.
"Really," I reassured him solidly. "Clearly you're smart. You just
didn't see it this way before, and that's okay. Most people have
difficulty seeing how smart they really are."
The boy looked even more optimistic, so I went in for the final
thought that I hoped would anchor our conversation into his
"Remember... don't ever believe somebody when they say you're stupid... and that includes yourself."
He seemed to get it. Then a moment later, another boy came by and the two were off running.
Nevermind that the previously sullen boy was now skipping down the
hallway. And with a smile on his face, he tossed back over his shoulder a
simple line that communicated to me my work had been done: