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There is so much negative in your child’s life. Their mind alone is sending detrimental messages continuously. If they come from a neglectful or abusive background, kids and teens wonder:
Do they really love me? Are you going to treat me like they did? Am I good enough for them? Will they keep me? Am I pretty enough? I’m probably not nice enough.
Our children heard, whether verbally, or by cues, they weren’t worth loving, weren’t worth feeding or clothing. They felt like nothing.
Now, it’s time to help them feel like somebody by adding some positives to the list, not only with actions, but with words. You may have heard the parenting advice that says to have five positives to one negative.
For example, if you say, “I’m unhappy with your behavior, you cannot hit people,” you would have five comments that praise your child when you see him/her doing something well (e.g. You shared your toys well, thank you. Good job helping me set the table, I love it when you’re so helpful. Thank you for being so nice to your brother, you’re a great sister.)
Look for every opportunity to praise your kids, and be specific.
Another way to encourage and praise your child is, if they are really intelligent and good at their school work, hang it on the fridge. If you’re the type that likes to see a plain refrigerator, sparkling clean, think of all the years when you’ll have that opportunity. Your kids will only be little for so long, and you only have so much time to show them you’re proud of them. If you have other children who aren’t as good in school, I would tailor this so you don’t discourage other children in the home.
If your child is an artist, and enjoys doodling, painting, or pasting, support their artistic side by posting their art where it’s visible. You can create an art gallery on any wall. Magnetic paint is an awesome tool!
If your child is good at sports, even if you’re akin to Kelly Clarkson in heels on a baseball field, take the time to practice with your child. Play catch with them, shoot hoops, kick the ball in the yard.
One of my favorite commercials is one that promotes getting outside and getting active with your kids. The family’s in the driveway, mom isn’t fit, she isn’t a star basketball player, and it shows, but she tries her best. She enthusiastically tries to dunk the ball in the hoop that hangs from the garage door, while her two children look on in utter amazement. She then lobs the ball to her son, telling him to go at it. This involvement is encouragement, even if nothing is said. When you show your child you care, they’re encouraged.
Praise your kids when they do well, even if it’s something small. But be honest, they know when you’re fibbing. Even when your child isn’t the best in a sport, there are times when you can praise them. If they don’t catch the ball, but they stop it, praise that. Some children are good at gymnastics, taking them to the park gives them a chance to show off their skills. Most kids will love showing you what they can do.
I love the part in the book and movie, The Help, when the nanny says to the young girl, “You’re smart, you’re kind, you’re beautiful.” I have taken that example and created one a little different. I say to Payton, “You’re beautiful, smart, and kind, and I love you.” I imagine she will remember the last words I say the most, so I place the ones I feel are most important at the end.
In this day when there is so much emphasis placed on beauty, I want her to know that no matter what, I think she’s beautiful. I want her to be confident in her intelligence and believe she can be and do anything, so I tell her she’s smart. One of the most important ones for me is that she knows she is kind, and that she use every opportunity to be kind to others. Lastly, no matter where she goes or what she does, I want her to know I love her. Always. I never want her to question my love for who she is.
I constantly remind my children that I love them no matter what they do. If Payton hasn’t been doing well, I make sure to tell her she isn’t a bad girl, she just made a wrong choice, and I love her no matter what she does. I reaffirm with words, hugs, rocking her, touching her back, and holding her hand. In turn, she has come from wanting little to no affection to being a very cuddly little girl.
I remember the greatest example of what praise and love can do for someone. A woman joined the writers group I was in, I could tell she had some kind of disability, but she smiled during the whole meeting. Afterwards, she began a conversation with me. It wasn’t easy to understand her, but I made every effort to hear what she had to say. I was struck by this young woman’s confidence. How did she gain such confidence? Knowing nothing of her background, I would assume that someone who had great influence in her life stood beside her, told her she could do it, encouraged and praised her. What amazing things can be accomplished when someone believes in us! Do it for your children.
How do you encourage and place positives in your child’s life?
Check out the other posts in this series on words:
Our Words and How They Affect Our Kids
Your Words Are Hurting My Child (how others words affect our children)
You can find more posts on adoption, foster care, and autism on my CONTENTS page.
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