Wanting to earn the identity we seek makes sense.
And honestly, I have seen this work first-hand.
See, you don’t yell at a three-year-old: “Come help us pick up toys!”
You are much more likely to get a compliant response if you say: “We are picking up toys. Can you be a helper too?”
The truth of it is that you become who people say you are – which is why we should all be calling our children brave and kind – every single day.
Many parents and teachers praise helpful actions, but children are more generous when they’re commended for being helpful people—it becomes part of their identity. If you see a child do something good, try saying, “You’re a good person because you ___.” Children are also more ethical when they’re asked to be moral people—they want to earn the identity. If you want a child to share a toy, instead of asking, “Will you share?” ask, “Will you be a sharer?”
-Adam Grant, Originals