Labeling Kids, and the Imposter Syndrome

At some point or another, someone has assigned you a positive attribute, and you secretly, shamefully, believed that you fell short.

One of my son's friends is known for being outgoing. When he went away to college, though, he felt shy and insecure.

People used to say things to him like, “It’s so easy for you to make friends!”  

Inside, he felt like he was struggling to find a social group. He thought that maybe he was a fraud—that he didn’t really have this great friend-making attribute that everyone had assigned to him.

When you tell your children that they are something—whether that is a positive or negative thing—you risk simultaneously and inadvertently telling them that they cannot be something else. 

This comes at a risk. A child who is told that she is smart will freak out a little bit (or a lot) on the inside when she cannot tackle a problem, or when she makes an error. 

I hope no one finds out my secret, ...

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