Do you ever worry whether what you say to your kids is beneficial to them. Whether it is building them up or breaking their spirit. Whether it is making them rely on you constantly or helping them become intrinsically motivated? I do. All. The. Time.
I want to raise confident kids.
As a teacher and a mom, I have done a lot of research on praise. What I have learned is that kids don’t need to be praised for their efforts with phrases like, “good job”, “way to go”, “you did it”, in order to be confident kids. So often, both at home and in the classroom, I find myself throwing these phrasing around constantly. Honestly, sometimes it is because I am not paying as good of attention to what they are doing as I should be. This sort of praise is meaningless to a child. They want genuine descriptive feedback to what they are doing. Not a simple, “ great job!” Don’t we all?
Kids are constantly looking for affirmation.
It’s one of those things that everybody needs. We all need to feel that we are adequate just the way we are. Feeling adequate doesn’t come from constant praise or encouragement, it comes from feeling good about ourselves and feeling capable. In order to feel capable we have to be willing to take a risk, persevere at something challenging and accomplish what we set out to accomplish. So rather than just praise, the thing I make sure my kids hear everyday is,
“You have what it takes.”
And then when they accomplish what they set out to do or when they try really hard, I can encourage their efforts with phrases like;
“You worked really hard to accomplish that.”
“You didn’t give up when you thought you couldn’t finish that Lego set and you were able to do it on your own.”
“You kept trying even though it was hard, maybe next time it will feel easier!”
Of course, I don’t expect my kids to be good at everything they try and I don’t want them to think they have to be or even will be. I know that God gave each of us our own sets of talents and abilities. What I do want is for them to never give up because of fear of not being capable. I want them to persevere and take risks. I want them to be confident kids. In order for them to do this, they need to hear me say,
“You have what it takes.”
I want them to internalize this phrase. I don’t want them to rely on praise from others to feel good about their accomplishments, but rather feel accomplished because of the effort they put in.
When they are doing something hard, I want them to remember, they have what it takes. They can do hard things.
When they are faced with something scary, I want them to know they have what it takes, they can conquer fear.
When they face a difficult situation with peers, I want them to know they have what it takes, they can stand up for themselves and others.
When they try something new, when they have a test, when they are all by themselves, when they are with their friends, when life is exciting and when it’s not, when they’re sad, and any other time, I want them to say to themselves, “I have what it takes!”
I am no where near being a perfect mom.
Out of habit, I continually throw around empty praise. But I’m trying to provide more descriptive encouragement and praise. I make sure my kids know that I believe in them and I know they have what it takes.
If my children only remember one thing I tell them (besides I love you and God loves you), I hope it’s, “you have what it takes.”
If you loved this, don’t forget to Pin it! And if you have toddlers at home, here’s a great article from Planes and Balloons that you won’t want to miss!