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Monday, April 25, 2011

Say something nice

As parents, we are often quick to criticise our children. We have expectations and feel responsible for them. But it doesn't work this way.

Have you ever been criticised? How did you feel? Did it help you to overcome that particular weakness or habit or behaviour? Unless we are very open-minded and strong-hearted, criticisms don't work. They hurt. They cause resentment. They backfire. They do damages to our relationships, especially so between parent and child.

"I have your interests at heart" is not a good reason for hurling criticisms and hurtful remarks at our kids. Uh-oh. Damage done? Me too. I'm not a "saint" mum who is always as sweet as an angel towards my kids. But I do strive to remind myself that I'm a mother, not a monster. If we look at a mirror when we start to criticise or scold or yell, my guess is it's not a pretty sight. Of course, which parent wants to look like a scary monster? But we have to sacrifice ourselves and act like this in order for the kids to listen, right? If not, they will never improve, right? They should learn to be strong enough to take criticisms, right? They need someone to knock some sense into them, right?

Hmmm. Maybe not right?

From my limited experience, my children respond better to praise and constructive suggestions. My son becomes motivated when I could find something nice to say. Twelve years is not too short a time frame to find praise-worthy improvements and achievements. (Do you remember how when our kids were small, we were forever so enthusiastic in every step they took, every new word they uttered, every milestone they achieved?)

When you say something nice, do you notice that your child's eyes light up, his face brightens, his mood lifts? He smiles? His energy is renewed? When you criticise him, is he stunned? Does he frown? Can you feel his poor heart and spirit sink together?

My ultimate objective is not to teach my child to become immune to criticisms, but to be able to understand his weaknesses and find ways to improve. Even more important is to teach him to love and respect himself, so he will live his life by being the best person he can be. How can he learn to do that if I don't love and respect him? How can he feel loved and respected if he never hears anything nice from someone who is so dear and important in his heart?

Say something nice. It's not for the sake of pleasing but to show our true appreciation. If we can uplift our kids with simple words, why do we need to trample on their efforts with nasty remarks? Have we unconsciously become generous with criticisms but stingy with praises? How often do you say "thank you", "well done", "I love you", "I'm proud of you" to your child?

If we have big dreams for our kids, let's start with a simple step everyday. Once our relationship has evolved into mutual respect and trust instead of conflict and resistance, our kids will be much more receptive to what we have to say, (constructive) criticisms included.

Oh yes, and thank you for coming to this blog, whether you are looking for resources in your journey as a parent, or simply to support me as a friend. I appreciate your efforts and support. Hope that puts a smile on your face too.

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