One of the things I shared with the moms I started meeting with on Wednesdays was a tip my mom shared with me on what things we should affirm in our children. She told me, “Joy, compliment your kids for character.” Instead of focusing on their appearance or their intelligence, praise them for obedience, for hard work and effort, for good attitude.
Research shows that if you compliment a child for their intelligence versus complimenting them for hard work, it actually makes them less likely to try difficult tasks. But if you say, “I can see that you really worked hard at this,” or, “I’m glad you tried your best,” they are more likely to work hard and try their best again the next time. If you say, “Wow, you are so intelligent. I’m so impressed,” they will be afraid to fail because their intelligence might come into question. So next time your child displays good behavior or puts effort into what they do, catch it right away and encourage them by complimenting it.
A couple of days ago, my four year old Edan saw me cutting out heart shapes in paper and he tried it himself. I didn’t realize he could actually cut out hearts but he showed me an example of one and I said something like, “you did a good job cutting out that heart. It is so nice! I didn’t even know you knew how to cut hearts!” And in the afternoon he surprised me with an art work which he designed with heart shapes cut out of it. He really took the time and the effort to make it for me and I felt so special. Complimenting works!