Two statements recently caught my attention—one made by a 3-year-old and the other by an academic researcher. The 3-year-old was adamant—“I can do it myself.” The challenge taken on by this child was pulling a wagon up a hill. The wagon was filled with compost for the garden. The teacher’s offer, “Let me help you,” was not welcomed by the child. Yet, the teacher stepped in and helped the child pull the wagon up the hill and to the garden area.

Agency can be defined as “the power to originate action.” This power, or ability, allows us to make choices and to act on those choices in ways that make a difference in our lives. Agency and what one believes about oneself are closely related. Agency is fueled by the belief that one has the ability to perform. It is also about feeling competent. The child with the wagon believed that she could pull the wagon up the hill by herself. The teacher dismissed and perhaps dampened that belief.

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