(Part 4 of Mindset series)
Are you more concerned about how your children feel over how they act? Do you find yourself making a huge deal out of their minor accomplishments in hopes of motivating them? Do you steer away from having them do anything that makes them uncomfortable? Do you refrain for being honest with them about their performance because you fear deflating them? If yes to any of these, you may be prone to over praising your kids without even recognizing it.
We may be losing more than we gain with excessive praise including telling our kids continually how good they are.
“You are such a good little boy.” “You are mommy’s special little princess.”
Kids who come to think they are really, really good- or exceptionally special – may become blind to their own issues and to their deep need of Jesus. Every parent wants their kids to behave in good and kind ways, but kids will never gain consistent victory over their own sinful nature when they think they can be good enough on their own merits. Either will we.
And what about ascribing words to our kids that are way to BIG for them?
Awesome. The best. Perfect. Wonderful. Are they really? If they are so wonderful now why do they need to grow? And what a weight some bear to maintain this lofty image for their parents.
To be “awesome” means to be awe-inspiring, breathtaking, astounding, remarkable. We serve an awesome God to be sure.
“Awesome” is regularly used to praise kids for ordinary every day actions as well. (I hear it used all the time and am very guilty as well.) Yet, when we ascribe the same adjectives to people as we do to God are we not promoting the notion that we can somehow be God? Parents cannot be God for their children but we certainly try to; we assume that we can keep them safe from all harm, that we can control their outcomes, that we can somehow change their hearts, and that our worry can actually change the course of events.
When we pretend to be God and forget that we are human, we fail to be a vessel He can fill, too full of ourselves to make room for Him.
And by using words that really are too lofty for kid’s accomplishments, we hinder them from growing by giving the message that they are already very accomplished. In addition, we may be making them afraid to really try in the event that their efforts will expose that they really aren’t so awesome after all.
I encourage you to replace words like “good, the best, awesome, wonderful” with words that encourage growth – specific statements about what you are after; not excessive praise made up of words that give no direction whatsoever, not to mention an unintended & inaccurate message. How does a child know what doing her best really means? And do we really want perfect to be our aim? It is an impossible goal.
I am working on changing what I say to my grandchildren by trying to use words that are specific to what I want to see happen. You will see a major emphasis on effort because it is their key to growth.
I notice how you not only listened intently but you kept you eyes on me the entire time.
You really had to struggle to figure that out but in the end you did!
Nice thinking – you figured it out by yourself.
You are making lots of progress with the effort you are putting into reading.
I can tell that you concentrated as you read because you remember many details.
Your work shows that you listened to the instructions and followed them exactly.
You paid attention to the swim instructor and your strokes are getting better as a result.
It takes hard work to memorize scripture and your efforts paid off!
Your careful work caused you to get more right this time.
I notice that you are working hard at writing neatly.
You really kept at it until you got it. That’s terrific.
It’s a hard project but you did it one step at a time and it turned out great.
I like how you chose the tough problems to solve. You are really going to stretch yourself and learn new things.
You are focusing on your reading and comprehending more and more.
I like how you shared your toys with your sister.
How did you solve that problem?
What helped you improve your grade on this assignment?
Tell me how you figured that out?
What did you learn from this mistake? What will you do differently next time?