Monday, 15 August 2016

PARENTING LESSON #6 ~ Remember to Compliment

PARENTING LESSON #6 ~ Remember to Compliment

THOSE "GOOD OLD DAYS"

It's so easy to take the little things in life for granted. We are often quick to complain about the not-so-great stuff and forget to appreciate the good things that happen each day. The same can so easily happen when you're parenting children. 

In the not so good old days when I was a child it was the norm to be told what you were doing wrong, to be smacked or reprimanded and expected to do better next time. It was almost unheard of in my house for a compliment to come your way. In fact, when I look back on my childhood, I don't really remember any words of encouragement or positive input coming out of my parents' mouths. I don't remember hearing any being directed towards my brothers either, so it wasn't just me or something I did wrong.

I'm not sure how we figured out what we were doing right if we never heard anyone tell us what a good job we were doing. I guess we knew if we weren't being criticized then we must be on the right track. It's a strange way to be parented when you compare it to the parenting style that is all around us today.

SUPER DUPER KIDS OF TODAY

It seems you can't compliment a child too much now days. Every little achievement is lauded and praised, from "I ran in a race" badges to schools cancelling sports carnivals because they didn't want any child to feel like they weren't winners. I can't believe the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction in such a short period of time. It's almost as damaging to over-compliment children as it is to never praise them.

IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE

Life and parenting are all about balance. It's so important to recognize your child's strengths and to let them know how well they're doing, but at the same time you don't need to overdo it to the point of creating narcissistic monsters who think they are the best at everything. Sooner or later they will get a very loud wake-up call when they come across someone who is more talented or better skilled than they are.

It's hard to know if you got the balance right. Nobody wants to think they didn't build into their children the self-esteem they need to be able to face the world with a strong sense of self worth and the ability to be resilient when life's ups and downs strike home. It's so important to give your child an innate sense of who they are and what they are capable of - but at the same time not big-noting them into a false sense of overconfidence. 

Compliment people. Magnify their Strengths, not their weaknesses.

IT'S ABOUT CHARACTER FIRST AND FOREMOST

I think part of the secret is to focus on the good stuff, quality character traits, goodness, kindness, self-control, hard work, diligence, the ability to take criticism on board but not take it to heart. So often we focus on physical traits when we compliment our children - you're the smartest, you're the prettiest, you're the fastest, you're the most popular etc. When instead we should be praising them when they show strength of character, or put someone else's needs before their own, that's a really hard quality for a child to learn.

It comes back to balance again, it's easy to find physical things to compliment but we need to also look for the deeper spiritual qualities in our children too and help them develop those traits because that's what makes them strong and worthy human beings. Children need to know they're loved and appreciated, they don't learn that by guessing, they learn it by hearing it every day in different ways - especially from their parents.

I hope my children have memories of being praised, I hope they developed some of their self-esteem from the security of the family home. I hope they know deep within themselves how valuable they are and how much they are loved by their parents. There's not much else a child could ask for than that.

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PARENTING LESSON #6 ~ Remember to Compliment

38 comments:

  1. I think there is a fine line with giving praise and going overboard. I'm finding kids these days are built up so much that when they don't do well at something, excuses are made or they can't cope. I actually heard they don't score in the younger team sports now so they don't have a winning or losing team. Children have to learn that life isn't all rainbows and happiness but they certainly do need encouragement and praise when it is deserved.

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    1. I completely agree Sue - the need to constantly be bathing our children in praise for even the littlest things is so over the top and really unhealthy too. They need to build resilience and we need to help them - not hinder!

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  2. True at home and true at work as well.

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    1. Nothing like a compliment at work to brighten the workday and remember why you do it all!

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  3. Your phrase of "security of the family home" leapt out at me. My daughter was fretting over something this past weekend. I met her where she was and I didn't brush off her fears but I simply reminded her that her home will always be a safe place to fall. No matter what happens outside its door.

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    1. Home should be a haven Carla and I feel so sorry for children (and wives) who don't have the security of a safe place to come back to at the end of the day. So glad you've created one :)

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  4. I SO agree. What ever our kids are raised with, that's what they'll be. My Mom always complimented us when we showed kindness. I remember her saying, "That was so nice of you to do that." We loved it. Didn't even think about it till I read your post today.

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    1. Your mum was so ahead of her time Diane - raising kind kids should be what we're all aiming for.

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  5. This is great! I worked with a man who was very handsome, and growing up a great athlete. He shared with me his burden that he wanted to just be recognized for being smart and a nice guy. He was the favored son with his athletics to his parents, the looked up to brother by his sisters, the popularity of his persona to his school and college friends yet he wanted more of him, his character to define who he was as a man. I think of him often when I compliment or hear compliments.

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    1. It's like beautiful women who never learn to be all that they could be because people have always judged them on their beauty and they had a bit of a free ride. It's interesting to see it from the point of view of someone who felt the lack because of his physical attributes being the main focus.

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  6. Kids model themselves after what their parents do. You can compliment, criticize, give them time outs, whatever but if they see you or people who are role models behaving badly, they will either begin to mimic that behavior or rebel against it. I was easy going with my kids and used gentle discipline. They both turned out great. I got lucky.

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    1. Being a good role model is so vital isn't it Rebecca? And remembering to praise the good and treat them with love and gentle guidance (and the occasional shove!)

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  7. This is a pretty big deal-- it helps us develop confidence. However, only compliments without constructive criticism, well, kids end up with unrealistic expectations of the world
    Carol

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    1. It's all in the balance again isn't it Carol? Being able to accept criticism is so important - I'm not sure how we learn to do that in a healthy way (I've never been very good at it)

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  8. What a wonderful blog! I tried to reinforce the positives with my children. I think it is important and a loving way to guide them to feeling positive about making good choices.

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    1. It is isn't it Ellen - giving them the encouragement and confidence to trust themselves and the direction they're choosing to go in is so important - and such a vital task for parents.

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  9. It's important to praise, yes. But also important to praise with sincerity.

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    1. That's so true Sheryl - kids see right through insincerity and it can often have the opposite effect.

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  10. You are so right about the balance thing because here is the other side of that coin. My son remembers people overpraising -- it is the whole trophy for pariticipation generation.... So, we walk that very fine line of as Sheryl says praise with sincerity and not over praising. I don't know what that is but I know on the way to building self-esteem, we need to be mindful of how are children are reacting. My son's generation is filled with entitlement and I wonder how this all relates. Thank you for this truly thought provoking (maybe even in ways you did not intend :)!) post!

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    1. The "Me" generation is certainly alive and well Ruth - they have been handed everything on a plate by parents who felt the need to overcompensate for their own childhoods. We need to find that balance between building our child's self esteem and turning them into monsters. Unfortunately there are a lot of little monsters out there!

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  11. It's very hard to find that balance. We have absolutely gone overboard in praising our kids, and have raised a generation who now expects to be praised for everything they do.

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    1. I know Lois - this Gen Y or whatever they are, are so full of themselves at times. Confidence is one thing, false confidence that crumbles at the first hurdle is something else completely!

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  12. I agree with complimenting kids when they show good character traits like kindness or patience.

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    1. They're the qualities that make someone truly lovely and it's what we should all be wanting to build into our kids isn't it Cathy?

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  13. Beautifully written and so true Leanne. There's a fine line in the middle that a parent must balance to make sure that our kids to grow up to be balanced themselves.

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    1. You are so right Rena - walking that line of building them up but not giving them unreal expectations of themselves or others - or a free ride in life is where the balancing act comes into play.

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  14. I hope my kids have memories of being praised and complimented - I will have to ask them!

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    1. I hope mine do too Janet - I'm a bit scared to ask in case I thought I was doing okay and maybe I was kidding myself :)

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  15. I so agree that we need to let our kids hear praise and compliments and yes for their physicality but also for their minds and hearts. Finding that balance of enough sincere compliments and not going overboard is not easy sometimes to strike.

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    1. That's so true Rosie - praising physical attributes is a minor quality compared to drawing out and praising qualities that make our kids valuable contributors to the world around them.

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  16. Loved this. You can almost tell which kids were raised with the values of kindness and those with the lesson to "win." Its a fascinating subject and I think is showing up in our Presidential race.

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    1. I agree Laurie - it's what we're taught to value from childhood that shapes our character into adult life. It would be nicer to see more kindness and less "win at any cost" being manifested :)

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  17. This is a lesson I am having to learn as we adjust our lives to accommodate my father with Alzheimer's. It is so easy to constantly criticize without meaning to and it has been a steep learning curve to say the least. P.S. It's Tania from Soul Sense Coaching stopping by from Blog Pitch Party.

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    1. Hi Tania - lovely to meet you and I must say that anyone who cares for someone with Alzheimers has my utmost respect - good on you for hanging in there!

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  18. I always tried to give my children lots of support and not criticize them. Today they too are caring and support their children, but do not hesitate to talk to them if they have not performed well. Then the reason why is talked about and how to change it.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,
    Bev

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    1. Hi Bev - isn't it lovely when we see our own children doing even better than we did with their offspring? :)

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  19. I couldn't agree more. Balance IS the key and the compliments should go deeper into the character and souls of our children. I never agreed to every kid getting a medal or a ribbon mainly because that's not real life and I was raising/preparing my children for real life. I hope the generations to come back it down a notch and balance things out. I look at my own grandchildren and am encouraged. - Great post.

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    1. Thanks so much - I didn't realize you were a grandmother - you always sound much younger! I totally agree about toning it down a notch (or two) with the over zealousness of win win win, praise praise praise!

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