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 and 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 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 way of 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 you are building their self-esteem by doing so.
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 make better future choices because they realize that they have greatness in them as a person. As I worked with kids for 40+ years, I realized that kids often rise to the lowest level of expectation. If that most reasonable expectation is that our kids will misbehave, be trouble makers, and make bad choices, then kids will not disappoint us; they will act as you expect 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 it was challenging to find the good to compliment him. My wife and I sat down one night and decided that 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 a grown man. As I spoke with him about those difficult years, he remarked fondly on our efforts.
When he said that to us, it seemed so confusing, so unclear, and in many ways unsuccessful, yet he saw it differently. Mistakes are always part of the journey, 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 will 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 you 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.
Here is the link to a post that is closely related to Praise Your Kids, Encouragement – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
WebMD has a wonderful post here The Right Way to Praise Your Kids (webmd.com)
Yours for Better Parenting,