Last week, I overheard a stressed out mom in the Target parking lot tell her 4 year old that he needed to "get a grip on his emotions RIGHT NOW!" I laughed to myself because I'm sure I sound that ridiculous on several occasions every. single. day.
Namely, I am guilty of at least 5 of these:
My worst offenses are probably "be careful," "hurry up," and "great job."
In the right situation, they're absolutely appropriate; however, I know I say each one at least five times a day. And usually, it's to appease my own worries and/or impatience.
According to the article in Parents magazine (from April 2014...yes, I'm that far behind on my mags) constantly praising your child (especially when it's unwarranted, e.g. for doing something they should already be doing, like picking up after themselves, etc.) reinforces them to be dependent on your affirmation rather than their own motivation. Makes sense, no?
Overuse of "be careful" distracts their focus from whatever it is they're trying to do, whether it be climbing a ladder at the playground or painting a picture on your precious dining room table. Like I said, this one usually is said on my part due to my own anxieties, not theirs.
And "hurry up" just makes whatever the situation is more stressful...for both parties. You may be five minutes late for school that day, but it's important for your little one to put on those sneakers all by himself, okay?
(And when in doubt, refer to this.)
Needless to say, I felt pretty down on myself as a parent after reading all this, as you might imagine. However, the article ends with some encouraging things you can say to your children...which I already say anyway!
"What could you do instead?" (Encourages problem-solving.)
"Yes." (Whenever possible!)
"You can always tell me everything." (Remind them often!)
"I'm sorry." (Shows them how to own up.)
"I love you." (You simply cannot overuse those three words.)
So, there you have it.
Guess I'm not completely failing as a mom.
~ image by Parents magazine / photo by bits of breezy ~