Personal Cheer Squad

I was reading an article the other day that talked about how to praise your children. At first I thought it sounding kind of crazy but after reading the article it really got me thinking. What it talked about is how as parents we have a direct link to our children's self image. Kids want to please their parents so much that they subconsciously alter their behavior to receive our praise or avoid our criticism.

Kids that are over praised for everything have shown to choose less challenging activities to be more successful rather than challenging themselves. Kids that are criticized to harshly have problems with depression, self images, etc. Pretty big responsibility for parents to guide this path.

When it comes to a lot of areas in parenting Bret and I have had to find our way from opposite ends to the middle. I am hopeful that this gives our kids a nice balance. When it comes to praise it is no different. I tend to lavish the praise and Bret tends to give out the criticism. With Emily especially I can see how much we have both worked to find that middle ground. Instead of constantly telling Emily how awesome she is or how good a job she does at everything I work to keep my praise specific. I also try and help her identify areas for improvement. Bret has worked a lot at being more positive with his criticism. Emily recently started soccer and I over heard Bret coaching Emily between exercises. "Emily you are doing a really good job listening to the coach's directions, let's try and keep your ball closer to you so that you don't have to spend so much time chasing it all over the place."

So far I think that has been working for all of us. Emily's self confidence continues to soar but she also takes criticism well. When she colors a picture for us she is really proud when she can show that she stayed in the lines. Sometimes she will point out the areas outside the line and tell us "I got a little carried away". When we were outside the other day kicking the ball back and forth I heard her repeating some of the things Bret had told her that she needed to practice and work on.

This past Saturday was the first swimming lesson of the season (we have been off since August). Both of the kids have been in swim lessons for over a year and really love it. Emily has been in level two swim for almost the entire time. The jump between level two and three is pretty much once you know how to swim. Level one is the introductory to water so it goes to show that Emily is in limbo (not ready for lvl 3 but almost out of lvl 2). We always knew that swimming is one of those things where you just get it. Something just clicks and all of those things that you have to remember all come together. Emily is fearless in the water but has never really "swam" by herself either...until Saturday.

Palmer and I had just finished up the tot class and were sitting watching Emily's class. I almost came out of my seat when I saw Emily swim from the wall to the teacher and the teacher kept backing up. Then she turned around and swam back to the wall with no push or anything. She did it! She swam all by herself. I couldn't believe it. It was all I could do to not hoot and holler for her. When she reached the wall I could see she was looking for me with the biggest smile ever. She was so proud of herself and so was I. There is no greater feeling in the world than watching your kid doing something that makes you so proud.

No comments: