One of the best bits of parenting advice that I’ve ever read was to remember to acknowledge your children’s achievements. This might sound fairly obvious but I’m not talking about swimming 25m, reaching free reader status or winning a dance competition. No, I’m thinking on a much more everyday level. Children are constantly striving to master some new skill, whether that be a toddler potty training, an older child remembering to take their dishes to the kitchen after dinner or any other manner of life skill, necessary in life as they grow older but not usually deemed particularly praise worthy. It can be so easy to focus on the present and on what you perceive your child to be not quite succeeding at that sometimes we forget how far they’ve come and what they’ve achieved.
For example, Sophia, like all children, recently went through a phase of striding into a room, interrupting whatever conversation was taking place and demanding immediate attention. We would chastise and remind her not to interrupt, to wait for a break in a conversation or at the very least to say ‘excuse me’. And whilst she still sometimes interrupts Dan and I, I realised the other day just how often she actually waits for us to stop talking or politely makes it known that she wants to ask us something. But at no point have we acknowledged this change and whilst I’m not one for lavishing praise unnecessarily on children, I do think it’s important to make a point of telling them that you’ve noticed the skill they’ve gained.
The process of reflection, acknowledgement and praise (where due) is not a bad one to practice. In a world which can have a rather overwhelming negative bias at times, I think it’s important to try and focus on the positive where possible. This doesn’t just have to apply to children either. Obviously you probably aren’t going to congratulate your partner for putting their dirty laundry in the wash basket (or maybe you will?!) but you could definitely take the time to comment on some small positive thing in their life, whatever it may be. So next time we see our friends and family, rather than moan about the latest titbit of bad news (and let’s face it, there’s been a lot this year!) perhaps we should ask about what’s happening in their lives and celebrate all the good things that are happening. Because positive things are all around us and I believe that if we look a bit closer, we’ll see that the good outweighs the bad.