This week I saw a quote from the Responsive Parenting Blog “Model instead of Teach; encourage instead of praise.” I immediately knew that I wanted to share this with you, parents of young children. This is a reminder that the best way to teach your child how to behave is to model the behavior you want them to exhibit. If you want a three-year-old to calm down when they are upset, yelling at them to calm down is not going to do the trick. You will have to calm yourself down first. If you want your daughter to speak up for herself, you will have to model for her how to use assertive speech when you are standing up for yourself. If you want your son to say please and thank you, make sure that you never forget to say it yourself.
The second part of that quote is just as important. “Encourage instead of praise.” This is hard. Your child is learning how to navigate the rules and expectations of your house, of school, of the world. Instead on only praising a child when they are successful at navigating all these rules and expectations, take time to encourage your child when they make mistakes and fall short of the expectations we have placed on them. Your child is no more or less perfect than you are. I am sure sometimes you forget to say please or thank you. I know that sometimes I forget and interrupt someone else when he or she is talking.
The most beautiful thing about encouragement as opposed to praise is that you can encourage your child weather he is successful or unsuccessful.
Encouragement, to a child, is like having your own personal cheerleading squad cheering you on! Remember when your child was first learning to crawl or take steps, you did not withhold your encouragement from your child until they walked perfectly. You encouraged, even when they fell… especially when they fell. Can’t we do the same as they are learning rules about how to navigate their ever changing and growing world?
“Model instead of Teach, and encourage instead of praise.” Think about it this week.