The start of a new school year can be filled with anxiety for many students as they are faced with a variety of new and challenging tasks. Whether kids are trying to make new friends, learn a new concept in math or navigate dorm life for the very first time, there is one simple word that can give kids of any age the encouragement and inspiration they need to meet these challenges with confidence.
The research around language and its impact on how our brains become wired has exploded over the last decade and this latest discovery by world-renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck once again confirms the power of our words.
The magical word is yet and it becomes incredibly potent when used with individuals who have just expressed concern over not being able to do something or not being good at something. Think of how different the following sentences feel to you when yet is added.
I haven’t made any friends yet.
I don’t understand algebra yet.
I can’t get across the monkey bars yet.
I’m not good at speaking in front of others yet.
In her research, Dr. Dweck found that simply using the word yet helped individuals see more potential in themselves. This one word literally trains our brains to remain open to challenges and see things more positively. By using this word with our kids, we help them develop a more accurate perspective of learning. Kids begin to realize that ability is something that is fluid rather than fixed and they learn that progress in any area of life can be developed and achieved over time.
Put another way, if an individual believes that they are not good at something, it closes the door to learning in their mind. On the other hand, if an individual understands that they are not good at something yet, the door to growth, progress and mastery remains open which naturally results in more confidence, motivation and persistence.
Of course, yet is just as powerful for adults as it is for children. So with that in mind, it can be helpful to take a look at the words we use with ourselves including our silent but powerful self-talk. And if you discover that you haven’t been thinking and speaking like this don’t worry, you just haven’t incorporated it into your daily habits and vocabulary yet.
“Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.”