Children experience daily stress of doing well and working hard in school. Spring break is not only a good time to relax and de-stress, but also an opportunity for parents to reboot their child’s self-confidence and self-esteem, which often gets compromised in the face of stress and sometimes criticism throughout the school year. This can be done simply by taking the time everyday to notice what your child is doing that is positive and productive and call attention to it. If only it was truly as simple as I suggest!
It is not easy because we often get caught up in our daily living obligations, schedules, etc. and tend to notice interferences that disrupt our agendas. What happens to all the non-interferences and non-disruptions that occur? Oh yes those; they go unnoticed because they don’t cause us distress so we assume there is no need to highlight or focus on those things. I often ask parents to think about when they are driving and how many times they notice awful drivers versus good drivers. Inevitably, bad drivers catch our attention because they cause us some distress or uncomfortable feelings. But, of course we don’t think “wow what a great driver that person is” when someone is being courteous and following good driving practices. Interesting right? It is as if we are somehow innately wired to notice the bad and react and ignore the good. Same applies to parenting. As parents we tend to immediately notice what is wrong or what we don’t like about our child’s behaviors and tell them.
Knowing that our brain is set up to process information from the negative feedback loops motivates us to challenge this innate urge and instead do things differently. This will allow for your own parenting growth, which is needed in order to foster your child’s growth. Yes, I am implying that you have to go out of your way, working against your brain, to find the wonderful things going on around you and your child’s behaviors. You will be pleasantly surprised how many positives you will find.
There is nothing more rewarding than a genuine compliment. Here are some easy ways to notice and call attention to your child’s positive behavior:
“I like it when you….”
“You are doing a nice job….”
“Today I saw you….. that was great!
“You have done….really well today.”
With no further ado, go ahead and start noticing what’s right!!
Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist