I can easily get into a rut with my words. There are many days when it seems all I do is correct, correct, correct.
"No elbows on the table."
"Don't talk with your mouth full."
"Pick that up."
"Put that away."
"That was unkind."
"Don't be immature."
"Do that over."
I call them "my six little blessings" so I want to make sure I am treating them that way. You know, treating them like blessings...not bothers. It's all too easy to get caught up in my daily schedule and to do-lists and spend much of the day barking out commands and correcting behavior. I've learned this though - you will get much further in training your children if you do more praising than punishing.
All of us would rather receive compliments than criticism, and our children are no different.
This morning my little gal did a "big girl thing" and brought me a cup of coffee. She knows how much I love a cup of coffee in the morning. Here's the thing, she dribbled coffee all the way from the kitchen to the couch where I was sitting. I could have fussed at her for the trail of coffee she left all the way across the room, but I didn't. I bragged on her for thinking of me and bringing me coffee all on her own. I told her how thankful I was for the coffee and how impressed I was that she was thinking of me. Her face lit up and she had a huge smile. I never mentioned the trail of coffee across the floor. I can easily grab a towel and wipe that up. If I had criticized her spilling she would have felt embarrassed and would have been less likely to do things like that in the future.
I'm just learning as I go. Aren't we all? What I've learned is messes can be cleaned up and mistakes can be fixed and forgiven. Our children's hearts are our treasures. We must handle them with great care.
So how about it? Why not try to find things all day long that your kids are doing right. Brag on them, compliment them, and tell them how wonderful they are. Find more to compliment than you correct and you will find them trying harder to do their best. (When the time comes, and it will, when you have to correct, do so gently.)
If you send your child to his room to clean it up and upon inspection you find a lot of work undone, start by finding some things he did right and compliment him for those things. After complimenting him for getting the dirty clothes to the hamper and putting his shoes away, then point out that he still has things under his bed and toys in the floor. There have been many times I would go into a room like this and start fussing about all of the things he had not done, and would have criticized him for leaving so much mess in a room I told him to clean. Now I've learned to find as many things as I can that he has done right first and compliment him on those, then gently point out the things that still need to be done.
Notice the times when your children are getting along nicely and are being kind to each other, and brag on them. Compliment them for helping a sibling, or being thoughtful, or sharing, when you see it. Try your best to catch them doing the right thing whenever you can. Children love to be bragged on and they like to be praised. Your children will want to do more to please you if you compliment more than you correct. Teens are the same way. Compliment their appearance and their smart choices every chance you get. We all know there will be plenty to correct so we must look for that which to compliment and do so as often as we possibly can.
There really is a whole lot our kids are doing right and if we decide to be on the lookout for it we will find it.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.