I taught a unit to 8th graders in my language arts classes on The Diary of Anne Frank. I called the unit “The Power of Words“. It was a perfect opportunity to teach students how words can change lives.
We discovered the labels and words of hate and discrimination and prejudice. They learned the power of the words of a teenage girl hiding with her family from the Nazis.
Our words can tear down or build up. It took some training and changing of habits for me to write encouraging words on student essays more often than negatives.
But encouragement has to be genuine. Middle school students are experts at discerning false encouragement. So are our own children
That’s why it is so important to give our children words of truth about their actions or character.
“You are so smart!” is too easy. We must find words that describe how they are smart or artistic or athletic.
And sometimes encouragement needs no words, just a listening ear.