So often it seems our interactions with our children consist mainly of telling them what not to do, and what they’re doing wrong. But sometimes we need to focus on what they’re doing right. Indeed, we need to encourage them more than just sometimes.
Imagine how you would feel if your spouse or boss did nothing but constantly criticize your work, your appearance, your attitude, and your behavior. Not only would you begin to feel frustrated and angry, but eventually your self-esteem would be worn down to nothing.
Psychology Today reported on a series of studies by psychologist John Gottman and his colleagues. They found that the children of parents who valued and accepted their children’s feelings showed better academic achievement, had lower levels of stress hormones and were more successful in resolving conflicts with their peers.
Kenneth Barish, Ph.D., author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems, notes that “harsh or persistent criticism . . . is a toxin that undermines a child’s initiative and confidence.”
He adds a reminder that our children look up to us, and because of that, “our pride in their character and their accomplishments remains important throughout their lives.
“A child’s inner certainty that we are proud of her and that we believe she is capable of doing good things is an anchor that sustains her in moments of discouragement, temptation, and self-doubt.”
Other Ways to Help
Work with them to help them understand what’s expected in any new assignment or challenge.
Review their work, gently pointing out where they went wrong, but also praising what they did right.
Reassure them when they fail that it’s not a reflection on them because everyone fails sometimes, and as long as they tried their best, that’s what counts.
If you could use a little guidance in this important area of your child’s development, why not try this month’s Family Table Time kit for free? Each kit contains all the materials you need to build stronger, lasting bonds with your family:
-an agenda for family meetings, offering a detailed plan for conducting family meetings
-character-based conversation starters to help explore each week’s topic in depth
-quick, easy, and healthy family recipes
-suggestions for fun physical activities families can do together
This month’s topics include accomplishments and pride, a positive attitude, unity, and resolutions.