May 29, 2010

Never Tell A Child That He or She Is Wrong

I got one of the greatest advice from a professor at graduate school (who was not in the deaf education program, unfortunately).

About working with a student, he told us, "Never tell a child that he or she is wrong."

He explained that instead we should say, "This is how most people do it." Or "Let me show you another way you can solve this."

There were several reasons he gave us for why we should not tell a child that she or he is wrong. First, it is dismissive and most children will see this as an attack and will lose the confidence and interest in working on the problem. Secondly, maybe they have seen their parents do the same thing (whatever it is that they are "wrong" in) and therefore you are basically telling that child their parents are wrong. For example, if a child pronounces a certain word in a certain way, keep in mind that maybe her parents pronounce it at home this way. Therefore it is better to say, "This is how we say this word at school." Thirdly, telling a child that he or she is wrong is simply a lie. The child is not wrong, perhaps you are not teaching it or explaining it in a way that he or she can learn.

Now, of course with little things like if a child says that 2 + 2 = 5, then you can say "That's not the right answer. Try it again. Not yet."  I do not think it would be so terrible to say the child has the wrong answer then. 

This is what I often think about when arguing with people or when I see the many debates and fights that happen all over DeafRead. Most people attack each other, screaming "Wrong!" rather than just simply state their points and ask reasonable questions. The ones who scream "Wrong!" with no good reasons are the ones who are not being taken seriously, I notice. There are a few bloggers who are able to maintain their cool and simply state, "Well this is another way we can look at it. This is what I see and understand. What do you think?"



  1. There are winners and losers, or what's the point of competition ? You have to have some goal to aim at, not take goals away because everyone cannot come first .

    We should tell bloggers "Dear Sir/Ms, despite the total nonsense of your last blog response, (Much has defied the most able of our language/grammar specialists, even the Rosetta Stone proved easier to crack), your point fails on a number of strategic points of factual evidence, and defies basic logic, it is more suited to a spoilt child who has thrown toys out of their perambulatoral vehicles, It is with much regret therefore, I have to suggest your point has failed in essence from hitting the mark somewhat... :) (By the time they work that out, you will have won the point anyway...)


Keep it civil.