Have a New Kid by Friday

Free Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman

Book: Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kevin Leman
it’s false and drummed up to make them feel good, and your children are smart enough to know the difference. It’s never a good idea to associate “goodness” or “cuteness” with how a child does a certain task. If the child did the task badly, would that make him bad or ugly?
    Do you see where I’m going with this?
    Praise links a child’s worth to what she does. To a child’s mind, that means, Uh-oh, if I don’t do something “good” all the time, then I’m not worth anything. And Mom and Dad won’t love me.
    It goes back to the pillars of self-worth: Acceptance, Belonging, and Competence. Children need to feel unconditional acceptance no matter what they do, to know they’ll always belong to your household, and to learn to be competent. All of these pillars will be knocked down by the falseness of praise.
    Instead, encourage your child. Encouragement emphasizes the act and not the person. Here’s a replay of the comments above, in the context of encouragement:
    • “Oh, Ethan, you got an A in math. I know you’ve been working extra hard in that area, and that work really paid off.
    You’ll have to tell your dad about it. He’ll be happy too.”
    • “I love what you built with your Legos. It’s very creative and fun, and you did it by yourself. What are you going to build next?”
    • “That’s a fun cheer. Where did you learn it?”
    • “When you went shopping yesterday, you did a great job. That skirt looks great on you. A wise choice.”
    See the difference? It may seem subtle, but it means the world to a child. When you encourage the act, you encourage the child to be competent and to try something else because he succeeded in that area. Little by little, your encouragements build a core foundation of solid self-worth that will last through any situation in life and even combat negative peer pressure.
    So the next time your daughter plays the piano well in a festival, say, “Oh, honey, you must be happy with your performance. You worked so hard to get that piece just right. That was beautiful!” And the next time your child scores a goal in soccer, say, “I can sure tell you’ve been practicing hard. All that work paid off, didn’t it?”
    Don’t praise your child by saying, “You’re the greatest kid who ever walked the earth.” What happens when she isn’t? Besides, she can already look around and see she’s not the greatest, so she knows you’re lying to make her feel good. That sets up the disconnect in your relationship: Hmm, can I trust Dad’s word? He’s snowing me now.
    Instead, encourage her in what she does: “I noticed yesterday that you helped your little brother when he was struggling to tie his shoes. Instead of doing it for him, you coached him and then encouraged him, saying it would get even easier next time. That was great, honey. I appreciate it. You have a very kind heart.”
    Such encouragement not only spurs your children on but further solidifies their 3 pillars of self-worth.

    Remember the kid at the beginning of the chapter—the live wire and comedian whom only his mother believed in? The kid no one thought would go anywhere in life? Even though that kid was a goof-off, his parents provided a firm foundation of self-worth through the pillars of unconditional Acceptance (even though he tested it many times as he grew up, and his mother grew extra gray hair in the process) and Belonging (this baby of the family always knew that he was part of the family and had an important role there). His mother would sigh each time he failed a class, then encourage him in the area of Competence once again. It wasn’t until that kid met teachers like Mr. Stearns, though, that he grew in the area of Competence. For his mother, it was a long wait . . . but she never gave up.
    How do I know?
    Because that kid was me.
    I’m in my third year of teaching kindergarten, so when I heard you speak about your principles, I was excited as both a mom and a teacher. I can’t

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