PureInsight | March 29, 2004
[PureInsight.org] I must have read the article titled, "Only You Appreciate Me and Believe in My Potential," a hundred times. I have stopped counting how many parenting friends I have forwarded the article to. I was moved not only by the boundless motherly love, but also by the immense power of a mother's encouragement and appreciation of her son's potential.
The boy in the story is not intellectually gifted. His teachers believed that he might have at least one type of learning disability. Each time his teachers gave his mother negative and even cruel feedback, she refused to despair or vent any frustration toward her son. Instead, she changed the teacher's words into positive comments and words of encouragement. The little boy grew up to be an emotionally healthy teenager because of his mother's continuous encouragement. He eventually passed the college entrance examination with flying colors, and was admitted to Tsinghua University, the most prestigious and competitive university in China. The boy knew that he had gone a very long way from an intellectually disadvantaged child to a college student at the top Chinese university. He knew that he could never have come this far without his mother's undying encouragement and appreciation of his potential. When he received the admittance notification letter from Tsinghua University, he burst into tears and exclaimed: "Mom, I know I am not very smart child; you are the only person in the world who sees and believes in my potential."
This young man became increasingly confident because of his mother's continuous encouragement. He is like a little boat that has been given an unfurled canvas (boosted confidence), ready to take off and conquer the sea. In the end, he made something of himself, which was unimaginable when he was little. If the boy's mother hadn't constantly nurtured him with encouragement and appreciation, what would have become of him?
If the boy's mother had lost confidence in him right after the first parent-teacher conference in kindergarten, and told the boy, "Son, let's be realistic and face your weaknesses. Why don't just we forget about college? A junior college will suffice." Although such pessimistic advice is better than heartless criticism, it would have hardly helped the boy, since it was not encouraging. One can imagine that the boy might have had very limited accomplishments as a result. However, the boy's mother refused to despair and kept turning criticism into positive feedback. Consequently, the boy became encouraged and started to develop confidence in his ability to excel academically. This is not just the result of a mother's love, but her appreciation of her son as well.
Several of my friends kept telling me each time we met: "I admire your articles! I love reading your articles. They are very touching." Although they keep repeating the same kind of praise, their compliments really motivate me to write more.
I finally found two secrets of how to help others improve: Value other people's merits and also let them know it. I find those who value other people's merits to be the wisest people with the most beautiful minds and the most powerful strengths in helping others improve because these people truly understand the art of making themselves and other people happy.
Here is the article that I found so inspiring:
When she attended the parent-teacher conference at her son's pre-school, the teacher said, "Your son suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. He can barely sit still for even three minutes. You better take him to a hospital and have him checked out."
On their way home, when her little boy asked what the teacher said about him, she nearly broke into tears, but she managed to hold them back. The truth is, her son had the poorest performance among all 30 students in the class, and his teacher did not try to hide her contempt toward him. However, she told her little boy, "The teacher said good things about you. She said that my baby couldn't sit still for one minute, but now he can sit still for three minutes. Other mothers were envious of me because you were the only child in class that had improved."
In the evening, her son ate a record two bowls of rice, and he didn't ask her to feed him.
The boy then went on to elementary school. At a parent-teacher conference, her son's teacher said to her, "There are 50 students in this class. On the last math test, your son's score ranked 40th. We suspect he might be mentally retarded. It would be better if you had him checked out at the hospital."
She cried on her way home. However, when she got home, she said to her son, "The teacher has a lot of confidence in you. He said that you are not a stupid child and that, if you start to put more attention to details, you can surpass the academic performance of your classmate that shares a desk with you, who ranked 21st on the last math test."
As she was saying these encouraging words, she saw her son's gloomy eyes suddenly light up, and his defeated look began to disappear. He also became surprisingly agreeable and a lot less unruly, as if he had suddenly matured. The next day, he left for school earlier than usual.
Then the boy went on to junior high school and she went to another parent-teacher conference. She sat in her son's seat, waiting for his teacher to announce her son as one of the worst achievers in the class, because his name usually appeared on the list of students with poor academic performance. However, this time she didn't hear his name and did not know what to make of it. At the end of the meeting, she went to the teacher and asked the about her son's schoolwork. The teacher answered, "According to your son's current academic performance, I am not sure if he will be able to get into a top high school."
She left the campus feeling pleasantly surprised. Then she saw her son waiting by the school gate. On their way home, she put her arm around his shoulder as she felt indescribable joy. She said to him, "Your teacher is very satisfied with your performance. He said if you worked hard, there's a great chance that you might get into a top high school."
Soon her son graduated from high school. Shortly after the first batch of college admission notifications was sent out to high schools, her son's high school called and asked him to get the notification. She had a feeling her son had been accepted by Tsinghua University, because she had told her son that she believed that he would be accepted when he was registering to take the college entrance examination.
When her son returned from school, he gave her a Speedpost [one-day mail delivery] package from Tsinghua University's Admission Office, and he ran into his room, crying and exclaiming, "Mom, I know I'm not smart, and you are the only person in the world who appreciates me and sees my potential!" She could no longer hold back her tears and let them roll down her face and onto the envelope in her hand.
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/1/6/25242.html