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Why As An Educator, Therapist, Mom and Human I Hate The Word Potential!

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

See my latest social media post/rant on this huge pet peeve of mine here or read the blog below:

Franki's thoughts about POTENTIAL and CAPABILITIES

Please be careful how you speak to children, teens, and adults about what they are capable of or use the dreaded word- potential. Beware of invisible disabilities such as: Anxiety, ADHD, Executive Functioning Impairments Depression, Sensory Processing Disorder, and all Neurodiversity.

Just because someone has the cognitive ability or the IQ to master a skill doesn't mean they can. Just because someone doesn't "seem" or "look" disabled doesn't mean that they aren't.

Do you know that research has shown (see the full blog for my sources) that anxiety and depression can actually impair cognitive (brain) function such as processing or short-term memory skills that are needed to learn.

Do you know that research (see the full blog for my resources) has proven that ADHD and executive functioning deficits can make it nearly impossible to start a task or plan out the steps needed to complete it. No, they can't just FOCUS or KNOCK IT OFF, without tools and a support plan they may not be able to even sit still.

These disabilities are not visible to the naked eye, yet they are very, very real and impairing.

So PLEASE take a moment and pause, before assuming that a child/teen/adult has made a choice not to:

meet their potential




work hard enough


try harder

And in a moment of frustration, if these words DO slip out, please know that you are also human and it happens to the best of us, including me!

DO- Acknowledge the mistake and Repair, if you make one of these accusations in a tough moment. Explain in an age-appropriate way, why you are frustrated and apologize. Give the other person space and time to share why they are struggling (if they know.) Ask what their suggestions are for support moving forward.

REMEMBER- Just because you can't see the disability or hear it, doesn't mean it isn't very real!!! Be sure to "Right Size" your expectations!!

Want to become an expert in "right-sizing your expectations", check out chapter 1 of " I Love My Kids But I Don't Always Like Them." It's a great price now on Amazon!

Here are my sources for my little social media rant and blog this week (because when I say "research shows" I MEAN it!) :

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