This is Quick. Don’t Praise Your Child.

I imagine you found that headline kind of odd.  Isn’t conventional parenting wisdom all about being positive? Sure it is, but one thing sticks out with being positive. Sometimes we overdo the positives to the point that children can’t live their lives without looking to us for approval. And when we praise, we may fall into the comparison trap, creating kids who are anxious and perfectionistic all the time because they weren’t the BEST at art or baseball or swimming or gymnastics or reading.

We all know kids who give new things one small try and give up.  It’s so frustrating as a parent, because we’re supposed to encourage new things! When  they don’t even try, how are we supposed to do our job?

First, let go a little. Let your child experiment with success and failure. The best teacher is trying and not doing so well, so let her have that teacher. It’s not a reflection on you if she fails and tries again, but she won’t try again if you are monitoring her too closely. She deserves her space and autonomy in her learning world, so don’t stand in the way.

Second, understand that she may be 5, and may not have done her gym or dance routine perfectly, but that’s childhood.  Allow it.  Don’t comment on it. Just let it be.  Don’t even say, “Did you have fun?” every single time.  We are in danger of making “fun” a parental expectation, which takes the fun right out of it!

Third, an 11-year-old is not an 11-year-old is not an 11-year-old.  They vary a LOT.  So if you see others whose children are nimbly rock climbing at 11, absolutely resist the temptation to make sure yours does that, too. Instead appreciate who he actually is, and what he actually likes.  He’s not on this planet to make your parenting persona look good. Sorry, he’s just not. You’ll be a lot happier with your child if you just observe his strengths and encourage, even admire, them.

Fourth, watch what you say within earshot. It’s vitally important to express any negative thoughts about your child where he doesn’t hear them, IF your thoughts are a signal that you need an attitude adjustment. Don’t include your child in that.

Fifth, instead of praise, which usually involves some type of comparison, offer heartfelt appreciation. “When you … I feel … because … ” is a relationship-builder, not a corrective action.  Kids can definitely feel the difference.  And voila!  With heartfelt appreciation, they have room to grow into their true selves!  Everyone wins!

If you would like coaching on this or any other parenting issue, click here. 

 

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