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Noticing Acts of “Greatness”

On a noisy day when the teachers in my older daughter’s second grade classroom needed everyone’s attention, they made this request. “Raise your hand if you’ll promise not to talk for the next half hour.” Immediately, the students raised a silent hand, but not my daughter. Her response: “I won’t make a promise because I don’t know if I can actually keep it. I might talk.”

Hearing this story from the teachers, I had a beginning glimpse of one of my daughter’s unique strengths – a trait that I still see in her as an adult: the desire to speak authentically.

Most parents have stories about cute things their children say, and families like to recall these anecdotes lovingly as a way of cherishing their shared memories: “Remember the time when …”

The Nurtured Heart Approach offers an additional opportunity when we tell stories about children. It proposes that every child has unique qualities that we might call their “greatness.” Thinking about the potential meaning of stories allows us to talk about events in our children’s lives in terms of how they reveal their positive traits. “I remember how you welcomed that new child in your class. That shows what a friendly person you are.”

It’s easy to tell children that they have wonderful qualities, but the power of stories is that they show the evidence of those traits. “When you made a wish that everyone in the world would be cured of coronavirus, it showed what a caring person you are.”

Keeping a record of stories that reveal children’s personalities allows us to see the most important part of their development – the gradual emergence of who they really are.


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