Good parenting is a much easier skill to watch than to master. One of the keys to becoming a good parent is learning how to affirm your children. Human beings are born into the world and spend much of the rest of their lives searching for approval.
The first and most important place that this approval should be found is in the eyes of the parents.
Parents must first feel positive about themselves before they can naturally and comfortably feel that way about their children. As adults, parents need to be able to view themselves as respectable and strong. When parents fail to see themselves this way, it is tough for them to affirm their children. Children are very adept at picking up on what is being modeled by the parent. When they see a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence in their parents, they will begin to think of themselves that way.
Find ways to build small victories into your own life as a parent so that your child will see your growing confidence.
This will put a good model in front of the child to begin to build their own confidence and self-esteem. The image of a motivated self-confident parent goes a long way toward affirming a child. It will increase their comfort level toward taking on the many challenges that are tossed toward them as they grow.
Help your child to succeed.
One of the consequences of not affirming your child is that the child will expect to fail at everything that is attempted. Being a parent means that you have to get your hands dirty by participating in your child’s life. Help them with their homework. Assist them in learning to play an instrument or a sport. Bring challenges to them that you can do together to bring success to them. Make sure that the child gets to do enough to feel ownership of the result. Remember that very few people learn to swim if the only options are swim or sink. Think back to when you learned to ride a bicycle. More than likely, your parents or some caring adult worked with you until the training wheels could be safely removed.
Teach the child that being willing to try can be more important than success.
The old saying goes that a turtle never goes anywhere until it sticks its neck out. No one succeeds at everything that they attempt. A very good baseball hitter gets only one hit out of three tries. People can learn more at times from failing than from succeeding. So, if the child learns to keep trying, success will eventually come. Failure should not always be seen as a personal flaw. You can affirm your child even in failure if you help the child to learn from it and move on in a positive way.
Talk in positive ways to your child.
This does not mean to shower them with empty compliments. However, any movement in the right direction should be applauded. Pats on the back, hugs, and even a parental kiss cannot be overlooked as ways to affirm your child. Make it clear that success or failure is not going to be linked to your affection. This type of affirmation needs to start early in the child’s life. Even before the child’s language skills are developed, they can understand what it means when a parent tells them how special they are.
Children act embarrassed when they get public compliments, but they are effective affirmation tools.
Complimenting your child to their peers and to other adults in their lives is a good way to send them the message that they are important to you. Your child needs to know that you are proud of them and not ashamed to tell others about it. Whether it is in scholastics, sports, or just good behavior, find every chance you can to compliment your child.