5 Things We Need to Tell Our Kids More Often

Awesome

Every once in awhile I come across one of those articles on the net warning us that we’re pumping our kids’ heads full of too much praise.

Is there such a thing? Of course. You hear it at the park when the mom tells Jr. that he really didn’t HAVE to share the tricycle even though that other kid’s big mean mommy pointed out that it’s a public park and he hasn’t actually used the darn thing for the past 45 minutes. You hear it in the grocery store when the mom pushing the cart one aisle over tells her little Einstein that he’s good enough, strong enough, and doggone it, why can’t people just agree that the capital of Ohio is Kansas City?

People love to blow smoke up their respective kids’ you-know-whats.

But as much as I want to jump on the “OMG, not EVERY kid needs a trophy” bandwagon, I can only manage to hoist one foot up there.

Some kids get entirely too much praise. For other kids, that little trophy is the only sign that someone thinks they’re special.

Are these the kids of parents who read all those Internet warnings? Probably not. More likely they’re the children of a set I call the cold ones (and yes, I was using that phrase before Twilight, so back off) … parents who are in the parenting game only half-heartedly. Maybe they really wanted kids only to find out they aren’t really cut out for being around kids. Maybe they had an oops and are just trying to make do. Or maybe, well … we read about monsters on the Internet every day.

I have those monsters in my head when I lean in to my daughter, drink in that oddly enjoyable (only to mothers) scent of shampoo, sweat, and days-old Pirate’s Booty, and whisper “you know I love you, right?”

I try not to go overboard. We don’t praise her for doing the things she should be able to do by now (honestly, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve said “NO, you’re almost 8, you can do it yourself,” I’d be sitting in Maui in my beach house typing this blog post).

But I won’t stop telling her the truth, and I can’t say this enough … parents, we can’t

see these over-praised kids and veer too far in the other direction. It’s not WRONG to use a little praise. In fact, there are some things I think EVERY kid needs to hear:

1. You’re Smart. Listen, your kid may get As or he may get Fs. But he’s smart at SOMETHING. And there’s nothing more encouraging than for a kid than having someone recognize that … and

2. You’re Beautiful/Handsome. We walk a fine line with our kids. We don’t want to encourage vanity, and looks should not be the main focus by any stretch of the imagination. But when looks are just one of the many things you mention, you teach your kids that there is value in all of us — brains plus body plus …

3. You’re Funny/Silly/Spirited/Generous. Is your kid a clown? A philanthropist in the making? Tell them. Help them learn to hone these wonderful qualities, to embrace them.

4. You’re Awesome. They might not need you to say it, but haven’t you ever wanted someone to tell YOU you were awesome? It doesn’t hurt.

5. You’re Loved. I was going to put this at the top of the list. And then I was going to put it at number 2. And 3. And so on. This could replace everything on this list, honestly. Because if there is one thing you really can’t tell a child enough, it’s that they are number one in your world.

What would you add to the list?

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