The concept of praising our kids isn't a new one. And it probably isn't new to us either. I know my mom has often told us about how important it is to praise our kids. So why is it so hard sometimes?
I guess the biggest reason is because parenting itself is hard. It is a full time job from which you get very few breaks and very few thanks. It is work, work, work for a long time before it becomes rewards, rewards, rewards. My mom always said "Full hands now, full hearts later" but sometimes later feels very far away.
It can become exasperating, tiring, exhausting, demotivating, draining, and down right miserable sometimes to be a parent. I know we all know someone who would say "WHAT?! No it isn't!" But I bet we know way more people out there who are nodding their heads in agreement. None of us want to feel that way, but the truth is, sometimes we do.
And when we do, it is a lot easier to be frustrated and bothered by the little things. Pretty soon, though, you get into the habit of always seeing the little things that bother and our kids hear complaints, criticism, and correction from us all the time. Think about the last time you were only complained to, criticized, and corrected. Did it motivate you to improve? Be kinder? Be better? Be happier? Probably not.
Instead, think about the times you've been praised, thanked, recognized, and appreciated. Not only does it increase your happiness bubble in your heart (yes, I just named that feeling) but it also increases your desire and motivation to continue doing the thing that brought the praise. Or to seek out other ways to be great.
The same concept applies to our kids. I recently heard it said that you should praise your kids 10x as much as you correct them. Ten times as much!? Think about how many times you correct your child in a day. Some days, it may feel like everything out of your mouth is correction. And somedays, that may be true. Now, think about what might change in you, your child, and your home if you praised them (for something, anything) ten times more than you corrected them. Do you think you'd spend as much time correcting them? Probably not.
A lot of the time, the reason our kids need to be corrected is because they are seeking ways to either gain your attention or win your approval. The younger they are, the less they understand about what brings approval. Like my daughter who was so proud of herself for finding a special spot for her doll's blanket...by dumping out the bucket of 2000 perler beads onto our shag carpeted stairs. I didn't do a good job praising her creativity in finding a solution for her doll's blanket. Instead, I was so focused on the painstaking chore it was to clean up those beads!
When I did my "Change First Principle" experiment, I was amazed at how quickly I changed, my relationship with my husband changed, and the overall feeling in our home changed. And all I did was say "thank you" more. The concept is the same here.
Take the challenge and see if you can praise your kids ten times more than you correct them. If it's too hard to start there, then decide to give your child ten statements of praise a day and build up from there. You'll find it'll become easier and easier to find things to praise, and harder to find things to correct. And any correction that needs to be done will be done with greater love, appreciation, and patience because you've started to see your child for who they are and what joys they add to your life.