What are your child's strengths? How much time do you focus on the strengths? It's so easy to focus on the areas where our children are not as strong. Our intentions are good; we want our children to be the best. Of course no one is the best at everything. That's an impossible standard to set for our kids.
I have a child who is so very generous, helpful, and thoughtful. I hate to say it, but I don't recognize those traits as frequently as I should.
What would happen if I focused more on those wonderful parts of her personality, and focused less on the traits I think she needs to work on, like being neater. Would she try to be neater? Maybe. Would she take me more seriously when I spoke to her about being neater? Probably. Would she feel more accepted? Yes. Would our relationship be closer and more loving? Definitely!
Now I'm not saying that we should ignore the areas in which our kids need improvement. I can accept that my daughter may not be the neatest person in the world, but she does have to meet minimum standards of cleanliness and neatness. After all, she doesn't live in a cave and she won't live in one when she's grown and on her own, either.
I am saying that we should focus on the strengths at least as much as we do the other areas. We all do better when we're loved and encouraged. Think about the best coach or teacher you ever had. Even if he or she was tough on you, you always knew you were cared about. You were praised for the things you did well and you probably worked hard on those other areas just because the coach wanted you to improve in those areas.
You are your child's ultimate coach. Ok, so this can feel like a really long game sometimes, but there is an end to the game. And when it does end, it will seem like a really short game after all.
So focus on the strengths and find a reason to praise your child. Don't make it mushy; be sincere. You might be surprised at the reaction you get. And if your child doesn't react, be assured that she has noticed. Your acknowledgement goes farther and lasts longer than you realize.
From my parent's heart to yours,
Joy Goodman is a mom whose mission is to encourage parents and to celebrate joys of being a parent.