When a child says “I’m so dumb” (or “I’m so *insert negative adjective here*”), we probably find we automatically respond with “No, you aren’t. You are clever” because that is what we are told to say. Because we feel that this will make it better. My question is, do you honestly think that they believe you? Whenever a child says anything and we respond in a way that is supportive but is the exact opposite to the feeling the child has expressed, what makes you think that they will take your word as gospel? They probably won’t. The child will likely just think, ‘they don’t get it, they don’t get me’.
If we can manage to sit the the discomfort and pain of this feeling with our children we will learn a lot more, will feel understood and trust will be strengthened.
An example response might be “You’re feeling dumb at the moment? That’s hard for me to hear but I’m so grateful that you told me. Can you help me understand what makes you feel this way?” No need to come in and try to be the fixer. All the fix it method is doing is putting duct tape over the split. It will continue to show it’s head or worse, it won’t, until it finally explodes.
It is hard, vulnerable often uncomfortable but so powerful to lean into the discomfort.