Recently, my almost seven year old has started to call himself dumb. He does it when he answers a homework question incorrectly, misses a move on his video game, or has to be reminded to put his dirty clothes in the laundry. He smiles when the word comes out of his mouth, but makes me cringe every time I hear it.
I don’t think he truly believes that he’s dumb. I think it’s something that he picked up from kids at school and it has now become a bit of a habit. A “harmless” little saying that doesn’t really mean anything.
Or does it?
I find myself worrying that, after calling himself dumb over and over again for little mistakes, he will start to really believe that he is dumb. I worry that he will start to use the word so flippantly that he’ll eventually, perhaps unintentionally, use it towards his little brothers or friends. I worry that those children will internalize being called dumb and will then believe that they are, in fact, dumb.
I realize that he’s not quite seven and is still developing and growing socially, and that every day he is influenced by new trends and activities. “Dumb” might fly out the window today in favor of some other kid approved term that he heard on the playground. I can only hope.
In the meantime, I’m going to correct him every time I hear him say it and make sure that I point out when he’s doing something correctly. He’s not always going to get the answers right or make all the right moves, in video games and in life, but I’ll be damned if he’s going to think that making mistakes now and again make him somehow less intelligent.
Do your kids have any sayings like this that make your heart hurt?