Praise Your Kids

Sometimes we get so busy criticizing our kids, you know, trying to keep them on track, that we forget to praise the great kids they already are.  Parenting can leave you feeling overwhelmed just in an of itself, let alone when you add in all of the “life stuff” that we have to deal with as well.  It is a lot, and then on top of it, your child does something that you don’t approve of, and you jump on them with a quick correction.  It is a never-ending battle of trying to find the balance between celebrating that they already are a great kid, and making those course corrections that will benefit them later in life.

Today I want to remind all of us that we need to praise our kids for the great kids they already are.  Some kids make it easy for us as parents; they are little adults in their own way making meaningful choices.  Other kids it seems are distracted, challenging to keep on track and give you trouble all the way.   We need to remind the problematic kids that they are still great kids.  You may have to look pretty deep to find those good traits in them, but by doing so, you are building their self-esteem.  When we build kids’ self-esteem, then we are serving a two-fold purpose.  First. We help them to feel good about the good things that they are doing in life.  Second, we help them to make better future choices because they realize that they do have greatness in them as a person.  As I worked with kids for 40+ years, I realized that so often kids rise to the lowest level of expectation often.  If that most reasonable expectation is that our kids will misbehave, that they are trouble makers, and that they make bad choices, then kids will not disappoint us, they will act in the manner in which they feel you already see them.  As parents, we are self-perpetuating precisely what we don’t want when we criticize our kids.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t give kids guidance, corrections, reprimands from time-to-time, but when those become the norm, we need to look at our tactics more closely.  As a stepfather, I helped my wife raise her three children.  One of them was a difficult child who was that person that it was challenging to find the good to compliment him.  My wife and I sat down one night and decided from that point on we would look for the good amongst all of the problems that he was causing for himself.  It made a significant difference in how he viewed his childhood, not that he is a grown man.  As I spoke with him about those difficult years, he remarked fondly of our efforts.  At the time he said that to us, it seemed so confusing, so unclear and in many ways unsuccessful, yet he saw it differently.  Mistakes were still made, to be sure, on both sides, but overall we made it, and now we have some good memories on which to reflect.

Here’s what I know.  When all we give out to our kids are the things that are lacking, we are going to get more of the same in return.  When we find the right things, find the positive, and show them that they have greatness in them and that they are great kids, they will, in return, give you more of the same in return.  I hope that you will take this next week and make a pact with your family to shine a light on the good that everyone is doing and minimize the mistakes and difficulties.

Yours for Better Parenting,