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Helping Youth Recognize Positive Traits And Behaviors Within Themselves

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Jim Thompson (@JimThompson18) is founder of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit dedicated to using sports to develop Better Athletes, Better People. An Ashoka Fellow, Jim has written nine books including Elevating Your Game: Becoming A Triple-Impact Competitor. He is a faculty member in Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program where he teaches courses in coaching, leadership and sport & spirituality.

Here, Thompson writes about "You're-the-kind-of-person-who..." statements as a way for adults to help children recognize positive traits and behaviors within themselves and to adopt those traits as part of their identity. For example, a coach or parent who reinforces with a youth athlete that he or she is "the kind of person who always gives maximum effort," the child begins to believe that and turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As youth athletes internalize these messages, they become more capable of self-talk that can help sustain them in the face of adversity (i.e., "I am so frustrated that I keep missing my free throws, but I'm the kind of person who never gives up").

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