Do you often find yourself telling your child good girl, very good or good job when they eat everything on their plate or do an amazing drawing? We usually end up saying all this because we want to encourage that behaviour in our children, we want them to feel good when they do something good. Right?
But today I am going to tell you something different. Today I am going to tell you why you should avoid praising your child and what you can do instead.
Children right from the time they are born, are looking at us, their caregivers, as their role models, as the ones who give them a sense of comfort, security and love. How we talk to our children, especially our young ones, makes up for their inner voice, their self-worth and self-belief.
When we are constantly praising them and calling them a ‘good child’ when they do something appropriate or complete some task, they slowly start looking for external validation and approval. Their self-belief becomes dependent on how we feel or think about things.
Fast forward to when they are adults, when do get into a relationship or are in a job, they are seeking external validation, approval and attention from their partner or their boss. They are looking if the other person or society, in general, find them good enough or not.
Why this constant need for approval?
As a counselor, I have come across parents who are constantly looking for approval from society, who have a sense of not being good enough and sometimes shame and blame themselves when they do something wrong or commit a mistake. This is because of how they were parented in their childhood.
Our childhood can set the tone of our life. We all as humans are innately good. Our wrong decisions or mistakes in life don’t make us bad and this is exactly the message we want our children to grow up with. We want them to look at themselves with compassion and love, with forgiveness and care. We want them to love themselves no matter what and be confident for who they are.
This can happen when they feel good enough and are looking for internal validation rather than external validation.
Here are a few ways we can encourage this when they come to us, asking about their new drawing, or when they have solved a math problem or helped you in your household chores.
1. State what you see:
“I can see you have used a lot of colours in this drawing and have drawn in circles and squares.”
This shows your child that you have observed what they have done and they will feel acknowledged.
2. Ask them what do they think or feel about it?
“How do you feel after solving that math problem? I know you were working on it since morning.”
This makes them think and look inwards about how they feel.
“I know it was hard to solve that puzzle and you did it!”
Encouraging our children shows them that we believe in them.
4. Show your gratitude or appreciation
“Thank you for helping me out with the dishes. I really appreciate it.”
“I enjoyed cleaning the closet with you.”
We all love when are appreciated for our time, energy and effort. Make sure your appreciation is genuine.
5. Non- behaviour specific compliments
“I love you so much.”
“I am so grateful to have you.”
“I am so proud of you.”
Compliment your child any time of the day and not just after their achievements. This could be the 1st thing in the morning or the last thing you tell them at bedtime.
6. Use one word to describe their action
“You didn’t give up on that project, that shows perseverance.”
This actually ends up telling them about the quality they showed and makes them feel confident about themselves.
Hope these tips were helpful to you. Try them out and let us know how they help you in your parenting journey.