This phrase has become my daughter’s favorite recently. She says she read it on a T-shirt of one of her classmates. In this day of participation medals and trophies I cannot be more pleased that she relates to and appreciates this adage. Unfortunately, we live in a society of entitled weaklings who know no respect for others and are convinced they should be given every advantage in life without working for it.
Granted, positive reinforcement can be a strong motivator, but blatantly lying that someone is great or did a wonderful job when they clearly didn’t is counterproductive. All this does is encourages the recipient of false praise to continue in their same pattern even if it is detrimental to themselves or others. In the real world you don’t get a raise or promotion or bonus for doing a crappy job. You fail, you get demoted or fired. We must be kindly realistic with our kids, friends and family and tactfully provide correction and guidance when needed. Off handed, wide sweeping negative remarks don’t help much either but leave one feeling useless, stupid and incompetent. We don’t want that either. We need to strike a balance of praise and discipline.
This is where knowing how to give proper discipline is key. Discipline often carries negative connotations, but that needn’t be the case. Discipline can be stern, admonishing or encouraging. In either case the purpose should be for the individual to grow and learn from the experience. Ever have a kid feel down about their performance on a test? Properly applied discipline can both admonish and encourage. There have been many times I’ve simply asked my girls if they liked how the outcome of their actions made them feel. Typically, in those situations the answer is most often ‘No’. So, instead of feeding them the answer or telling them they are still number one in my book I ask them what they could have done differently. Generally, the response is, “Ask for help,” “Pay closer attention in class,” or “Do a better job studying” (which usually comes with a side of ‘ask for help’).
We have to empower our kids, not by babying them, but by helping them to learn the consequences of their actions. Learning to reason for themselves why something went wrong and what they can do to fix it can do wonders for their self confidence. It shows that even if something does fail or gets them in trouble it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Obviously, I still tell my girls I love them dearly. What I want for them is to take positive action to improve so they truly deserve what they earn.