All four of our children have different strengths and different levels of motivation. Grayson, one of our boys, has lots of natural potential for academics. At age 4, he said to me, “Mama, I just realized that 4 + 5 + 5 + 4 = 18. When he was 4, I pointed to the words in a book as I read to him and he had those words forever memorized afterwards, even when the words were presented in different books. I remember looking at him in awe as he read ‘Frog Creek, Pennsylvania’ and more out of the Magic Tree House books. Yes, he has lots of potential. But, he is blasé about it. Things do not come as easily to our other children, but they have more drive and passion for learning. I found myself feeling frustrated with Grayson and realized my frustration wasn’t helping. I needed to find a way to discuss potential with our children. As I sat next to Grayson working on reading, I noticed a box of crayons sitting on the table. An explanation came to me.
I pulled out a red crayon. I asked him, “Can I make a rainbow with this crayon?”
He said, “no.” I picked up the whole box of crayons and asked him if I could make
a rainbow with these crayons. He said, “yes.” I asked him if I could make a rainbow
with the crayons if I never picked them up or took them of the box. He, said, “no.”
I told him that I had the potential to make a rainbow, but I was choosing not to do it.
I said, “You have a box of crayons in your brain. You have the potential to pick up
those crayons and make a rainbow. Whenever you learn something new, you are using
your crayons to make a rainbow. But, if you leave your crayons in the box, you have the
potential to make a rainbow, but you are not making rainbows. Your crayons are
your potential. You can make a lot of rainbows if you choose to get your crayons out of the box.”
Then, I talked further with him about his potential and the times he chooses not to get his crayons out. He understood the metaphor. Now, when the issue arises, I ask him to get his crayons out and he smiles and puts forth more effort. I shared the same metaphor with our other three and they also related to it and I refer to it with them too. Capri, identifies with it and told me on her own, “Mama, I got my crayons out of the box today and learned new things that are good for my brain.”
If any of your kids are not fully using their potential, give this metaphor a try. Let me know how it goes in the comments or on the Capri + 3 Facebook page. Even though not all of our kids struggle with using their potential in the same way, they all identified with having a box of crayons in their brain that they can use to make beautiful things.