“Mummy … guess how much I got in English – 70%!”
“That’s all! When will you ever get 80%”?
“Mummy, I’ve come third in class this term!”
“Shame on you! You should come first”!
“Mummy, how do you like my new hair style?”
This is how parents damper the enthusiasm of children. Setting their goals high, parents always want their children to top in everything, their capacity notwithstanding! Still, it wouldn’t be so bad if parents were more encouraging and appreciative of what the children do, thus kindling an inner spark.
Remember when your child took, his first tentative step? How did, he keep at it? You coaxed him, cajoled him, offered him the incentive of a hug and he happily toddled up to you. A few falls in the process did not deter him as you were there, extending you hand to help him up. This is what you must do all along. But what happens is that, once the little fellow is firmly on his feet, you tend to get too critical and nag.
Some parents feel that praising their children only acts as a catalyst to complacency. “I never say ‘wah wah’ to anything that my son does” says a mother boastfully, “It will make him arrogant and conceited”. “I always praise my children. More so, before others. This will make them feel confident”, says another.
Both are extremes. There is a golden mean which is good for both parent and child. The first mother, in her anxiety to make her child a balanced individual, loses her own sense of proportion and keeps herself from praising. The other, in her eagerness to get the best out of the child, overdoes the appreciation. Starving a child of appreciation kills his motivation. “Why should I do it?” will become his motto. He is too young to philosophies on doing things for self satisfaction. For a child, the most important persons in his life are the parents. He’d do anything to please them. A frown will make him despondent, a smile will rejuvenate him. The parents have to be very careful about their frowns and smiles – distributing them with discretion and as the occasion demands.
It is natural for a parent to fret and fume over the poor marks scored by the child. Before you do that, why not first praise him for the performance in the subjects he has done well in and thereafter tackle the negative aspect? If you pounce on him from the word ‘go’, he will start hiding his report card, forging it and saving himself the harsh treatment. You reap better results by using the softening touch – first a good word and then criticism!
Appreciation should be commensurate the performance. There is no need to go into raptures over every trivial achievement of the child. This only makes him take it for granted – thus defeating the purpose! It should be given in small measures in such a way that it will make him strive for more. A child will not value anything that comes easily – especially praise! Let appreciation be linked with specific activities. Like when he drinks his milk without spilling it all over!’ good boy!’ you say at the end of it and this is enough to make him repeat the feat. However, don’t use the ‘good boy’ phrase for the wrong thing – like ‘be a good boy and get me a glass of water’. And the most important thing is to be sincerely appreciative – don’t use a false tone just to get your way – children are very sensitive to voice intonations and can’t be fooled!