How then, can parents strike the delicate balance between encouraging their children, yet ensuring that they still grow into capable adults who can independently tackle challenges? Here are my tips:
BE SPECIFIC AND TRUTHFUL
When you think of praising your kid to encourage him to do it better, be specific about what they have done in a nice manner and stay truthful about what they could improve. In this way, you will teach your kids the value of constructive criticism, and prevent them from thinking that everything they do is flawless.
PRAISE THE ACTIONS
Parents have a habit of continuously praising the attributes of their child. Instead praise their actions, like helping someone in need, or thinking about someone less privileged than them. Once you start doing that, the chances of them becoming a brat will reduce.
PRAISE THE PROCESS
We always love to praise our kids if they score well in a test or win a medal in sports. Praising wins and results is a slippery slope though – your kids may become unable to accept failures. Therefore, it is better to praise the effort they have put in and the process they have gone through to get the result, rather than the result itself. Instead of saying, “I’m so proud that you got top marks in class”, say, “I’m so proud of how you studied hard for so many weeks leading up to the exam.”
SHARE YOUR OBSERVATIONS
Observe the tiny struggles your child goes through on a daily basis, but don’t jump in to fight his/her battles. It is better to let children come up with solutions on their own. Once their solutions work, and the task gets completed, state your observations with a smile, it would make the difference. Just saying, ‘You finally did it!’ would give them the required boost.
Take out time from your schedule to show interest in what your child wants to tell you. Getting your undivided attention can provide your child with a sense of security and relief. If they get to speak their heart out, they feel good in a way no gifts or praise can make them feel.
REFRAIN FROM SARCASM
Refrain from passing sarcastic comments on the activities of your child. That sarcasm would never bring any good. Also, it would make your child negatively conscious of his/her activities around you.
Bragging about the qualities and accomplishments of your child is often something parents subconsciously do, especially when introducing their children to new people, or simply, out of love and pride. Be aware though that talking up your children in public can make them embarrassed as well as put pressure on them. Your pride is best shared through your attention and private moments with your child.
As an academician having spent decades with children, it has been my endeavour to build a balanced and positive environment to grow in. We believe in nurturing every child with values that they respect and, in turn, teach them how to be respected.