in Our Kids

Jeana James - Washington County School District - Horizon Elementary


The Ability or Know-How to Handle Situations Effectively

It is not a Vague Feeling

“I think I can do this”

It comes from actual Experience

Children can’t become competent without

first developing a set of skills

that allows them to trust their judgment, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations.

When fortifying competence in your students, ask yourself:

- Do I help my students focus on their strengths and build on them?

- Do I notice what they do well or do I only focus in their mistakes?

- When I need to point out a mistake, am I clear and focused or do I communicate that I believe they always mess up?

- Am I helping them build skills necessary to make them competent in the real world?

- Do I communicate in ways that empower them or do I undermine their sense of competence?

- Do I let them make safe mistakes?

- As I try to protect them, does my interference mistakenly send the message,

“I don’t think you can handle this?”

- Am I careful to not make unhealthy comparisons between students?

A Few Key Points in Building Competence in Your Students

Noticing, Praising, & Criticizing

Helping Kids Strive for Authentic Success

Thinking Clearly and Accurately

Avoiding Lecturing

Guiding Children to Find the Right Choices


Everyday Milestones

A Few Words about Praise

Don’t Lather it on Too Thickly

The Oppositeno praise or attentionTakes the Luster Out of Every Achievement and Stifles Motivation

Genuine praise, however, Goes a Long Way in Reinforcing Positive Behaviors

To Build Competence

Praise Should be Specific

Praise Effort

Not Intelligence or the End Result

Recognize the Process

NOT the product - again Praise Effort Rather than Grades & Test Scores


Adults criticize with good intentions

After all, we have the mature wisdom that children lack. But pointing out only their mistakes and shortcomings usually puts them on the defense.

Criticism also shames them, which can breed anger and resentment.

Criticism can make children feel inept –

exactly the opposite of competent

2 Basic Points About Criticism

Like Praise - Be Specific

When it is not direct it leaves a great deal of room for misinterpretation.

Constructive Criticism also Recognizes Their Strengths

Point out what they have done in the past, what they’ve learned from past experience.

Be careful of

Unintended or Unspoken Criticism

Kids & Authentic Success

If We are to Prepare Children to

thrive in the future

We must Think Beyond the Grades and Extracurricular Schedules that seem to Measure Success Today

We must Ask Whether Children Possess

Tenacity, Love of Learning, Flexibility & Creativity

Thinking Clearly & Accurately

Sometimes the way we think prevents us from recognizing our competence and paralyzes confidence.

This is true for children also

To be able to be Resilient, we first have to be able to stop thinking in a self-destructive manner.

Children think in concrete terms. They tend to see problems as entirely their fault

or never their fault.

Abstract thinking comes usually by late adolescents.

It is also critical to understand that all people think concretely during times of extreme stress.

Children Also Think Egocentrically

They see the world as it revolves around them

They See People as Good or Bad

The first step is to help kids think differently & break the pattern of

negative emotional reaction

Avoid Lectures

Although Our Advice is Offered with Good Intentions - It Often Undermines Children’s Growing Competence

In short

Lecturing Backfires

Keep it Short, Sweet, & Simple

When we keep it short, sweet and simple - this protects the child - it stops us from cutting or demeaning too much. Lots or lecturing or pounding it in can cause insecurity.

We want to Guide Children to Find the Right Choice

Our words need to promote their growing competence by guiding them to figure out for themselves how to be wiser and safer.

Our children’s Competence Starts with Us

#1B Building COMPETENCE in Our Kids - Google Slides