Can you over encourage a child?
Can you give him too much praise?
Have you ever heard the statement that if you give a kid too much positive affirmation then they will become dependent on it, or that you can spoil a baby with too much love?
I am not a psychologist and do not claim to be. I have no PHD, and have not spent countless hours pouring through literature on the psyche of a child. I am simply a mom. A mom with limited experience, but who watches her children’s signals and pays attention to the promptings in her spirit. I am a mom who prays for and seeks parenting wisdom daily. I don’t claim to know much on the subjects of children and parenting except for that which life has taught me. With that disclaimer in-tact, I would like to share with you some of my own humble thoughts on the topic of encouraging our children.
One of my favorite mom’s on the planet is Michelle Duggar, who you may know from the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting. I have heard Michelle say on her show and in her books (forgive me for paraphrasing) that for every negative comment that they receive, a child needs ten positive comments to build them back up. Isn’t it incredible that one negative commment could have such a strong affect on a person that they would need ten positives just to bring them back up to par?
I am a mom of a toddler. Which means that every other minute it seems that I am correcting that toddler for one thing or another.
“No No Ella.”
“Don’t touch that Ella.”
“Listen to Mommy Ella.”
Part of raising happy and healthy children is to give them boundaries. This is a good thing, they need this! But when we are so busy correcting, training and setting boundaries for these little ones, do we ever stop to think about how much of our interaction with them is dominated by “no, no…and…stop that?”
My daughter is getting negative (but necessary) enforcement what seems at times like every other minute? I probably say NO thirty times a day, and don’t think twice about it. Taking that into consideration with the ten to one ratio, I don’t think too much affirmation is going to be an issue. Children can be spoiled by lack of boundaries and correction – absolutely, but by speaking too many positive things into their lives? I don’t believe it.
I make it a point to encourage my children every chance that I get, every second I can! I am not afraid to lay it on thick! Know why? Because if what Michelle says is true, then I had better get to work bringing those positives about in their little lives! There are seasons when I feel like and I am correcting my toddler constantly – there is no way that I could ever keep a tally system of every positive and negative word that I spout her way! So, knowing that the negatives are inevitable, I take advantage of every single tiny opportunity that I get in the day to reinforce the positives. If I lather my children with positive expressions of love and encouragement, then I can hope that this and the enforcement of loving boundaries and correction will work in harmony as I attempt to raise children who are emotionally healthy, happy and well-balanced people.
Proverbs talks often of the “quarrelsome wife” but what about being the quarrelsome mother? If I am not balancing my motherly duty of reproof and training with positive affirmation, then in my child’s eyes, I could very easily become nothing more than a nag. If my child’s most common interactions with me are based on “no, no, stop that, you need to…” then I believe it will slowly eat away at the natural relationship of trust that exists between a mother and her children, because it is not balanced with words of nurture and affection. I think it is possible for this to bring damage to their identity as well.
Call me silly, mushy, or “spoiling my children with affection” but I want my kids to know without a doubt that they are special, loved and believed in. I want them to trust in the fact that I am someone who wants the best for them; whether I am making corrections or praising them in their character/behavior.
I want them to have the confidence to face their dreams and have the gumption to say, “Look out world, I am flawed, but I am a child of God who is loved beyond life itself!” and are ready to bring that love with all the fire and passion that God can put inside of them to do it with. I want to raise children who believe they are capable of being world changers!
I am a very sensitive, person. A positive comment can be life changing for me, but a careless criticism can haunt me with hurt for a long time. Sometimes I need to hear the same positive comment over and over before I actually start to believe it. Why should it be any different with a child?
I exhort you mommies, to nurture the precious souls that have been entrusted to you, by being their greatest champions. Don’t just flatter them at lip-service but really look for opportunities to genuinely compliment your kids. Notice improvements they have made in something they are working at and speak up about it. Share with them about positive attributes that you see in their characters, or the thing you noticed them do that was kind, or thoughtful. Praise them if there is something that you see them excelling at or believe they are gifted in. Choose your criticism carefully, and use it constructively.
There is a big world out there that is waiting to pounce on our children’s shortcomings, and an enemy of their souls who is prowling for opportunities to lie to them about who they really are. If we, the people who know them best are assuring them of the truth about themselves consistently and constantly, then I believe that they will be better equipped to deal with the world’s sometimes cruel realities and stand firm in the truth of their identities when the temptation to believe otherwise comes to whisper in their ears. I want to wring every last delicious drop that I can out of out of the incredible privilege of recklessly loving my children – so I am going to give this ten to one thing the best shot I can! Who’s with me?