Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Whether it is a simple thank you for an act of kindness or a prestigious award for service to the community, the acknowledgment for a job well done motivates us to continue doing these good things.
We should remember how being appreciated makes us feel when dealing with our children. Sometimes we are so quick to point out what a child failed to do that we fail to acknowledge the good or expected things they do. The more we express our appreciation of the good things our children do, the more we motivate them to continue with this good behavior. Showing your appreciation can help you build healthy relationships with your children. This can be especially true with teenagers. In this rebellious stage, hearing only about how their room is not clean or their grades are not good enough instead of what a great job they did looking after their younger siblings or performing in the school concert can shut teenagers off completely from their parents.
In order to keep the lines of communication open, it is important to encourage them, not only when they do a good job at something but also when they do what is expected of them time and time again. When they see that you notice all of the hard work they do they will know that it is not for nothing.
Think about a time you have come home from work tired, only to find a pile of dirty clothes to be washed, a pile of clean clothes to be folded and a cluttered kitchen to be straightened up before you start dinner. Now imagine that your family shows no acknowledgement for clothes and house you have cleaned or the dinner you have cooked. Sometimes we can take these ordinary tasks for granted. It is during these times that we feel like throwing in the towel and saying “I’m not going to do these things if they go unnoticed. ”
Now think of the same situation, but imagine that your family says thank you for the clean clothes and house and the wonderful meal. Even though you are completing the same tasks, they will not seem as dismal because you know they are appreciated. We can give this same motivation to our children by acknowledging a job well done. Even if it is just saying thank you for doing the dishes, knowing that you appreciate what they have done will make them more apt to repeat the action, maybe even without being asked.
It is not only important for you to appreciate your children, but also to teach them to appreciate others. The best way to do this when they are younger is to teach them “please and thank you. ” If you start teaching them how to show gratitude at an early age, it will become second nature when they are older. Sometimes children may need a hint at when they should show their appreciation, like making thank you cards after a birthday party, for example. Teach them that sometimes a small act on their part can mean the world to someone else and make that person feel appreciated. Children want to do the right thing. They want to please their parents and be told that they are doing a great job. Doing so will give them confidence and self-assurance as well as encourage them to build good habits for the future. The more you show your appreciation when your children do the right things, the better they will feel about doing them.
Solomon Brenner has been teaching martial arts to children and adults for ten years, and holds a 6th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. During that time he has held countless seminars on subjects such as self-esteem in children and teens, behavior and discipline, praise vs. punishment, career motivation, goal setting, parenting, and self defense. He has spoken to elementary schools, women's groups, scouting organizations, civic associations and corporate seminars. Using these experiences, he has recently authored Black Belt Parenting, a motivational how-to book for parents.