One thing I learned today is that…affirming your child’s character or past behaviour is one of the best and cheapest ways to build up your child. It won’t cost you a peso—just laway—and it will last a lifetime.
Here are a few tips about the power of praise and affirmation, that I learned from the parenting seminar that was organized today* by The Learning Hub Alabang and led by Gerry Argosino, a homeschool Dad, and former colleague in the advertising and direct marketing industry:
#1. Truthful affirmation motivates. Don’t make bola. It’s got to be true. Otherwise if you flatter the child, it’s tantamount to manipulation. E.g. “Anak, you’re so kind and hardworking, diba? Can you get Daddy’s bag from the car? I forgot it kasi.” The affirmation is hollow and the child will catch up on you.
Instead, just ask the child for his help. “Anak, can you get my bag from my car, please?” and when the child comes back, say, “Anak, I really appreciate your helping me and obeying your Dad.”
#2. Catch your child doing something good for a change. We usually have critical eyes and lips. The Malay race is naturally pintasero. My Dad used to teach at LaSalle (before AIM) and a study done by the then La Salle president, Bro Andrew, says that the Malay language (including Tagalog) has 2 to 3 times more adjectives and words to criticize and make pintas than to compliment or affirm. Therefore, we Pinoy parents need to be more intentional in the way we communicate to our children. So, be more aware of this. Catch your children doing something right at least three times a day, and affirm them. “Hey anak, thanks for bringing water to the table without being asked to. That’s good initiative.”
With that said…
#3. Compliment the effort or character, not the talent, smartness or looks of the child.
“You’re so pogi naman!” “You’re so super cute!” “I’m so proud of you anak! You’re so smart!”
Cuteness and looks will come and go. Children will get depressed if they have a bad hair day or start getting pimples later on that make them look less than cute or pogi. As for complimenting them on intelligence? The pressure of remaining “smart” is too much for a child.
Instead of “You’re so smart anak!”, better to compliment your child this way:
“You’re getting really good at ____ (fill in the blank). Your hard work and time that you spend reading and studying that subject is paying off. Good job.”
The focus then, is his effort and character.
Instead of saying, “you’re so pogi,” or “you’re so cute” — affirm the child’s inner POGI-ness or Cute-ness/beauty by saying: “I really like the way you smile. It makes people around you feel welcome.” Or “I appreciate your effort in making sure that your clothes are clean and that your hair is combed. It shows that you value and respect other people.” Or something like that. Get the drift by now?
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are not to correct our kids anymore. Gently correct (no shouting please) and discipline with love. Proverbs 28:23 In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.
At the end of the day, think about your words. Do you speak life to your children? Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
I’m still working on this myself. Today I tried my best to catch Joshua doing things right. So I complimented him on the Unicorn toy that he built out of paper and a wooden stick. “Josh, I really like how you worked hard on creating that Unicorn. Good job.”
I still need work on affirming him, I could do a better job in being specific, but I’m now more intentional.
Affirm and appreciate your child today. It’s the cheapest way to build them up!
One of the stories that I won’t forget that was shared was when Gerry and Girlie’s son, named Joshua also, joined a swimming competition. His parents were worried that he would be outclassed as the other swimmers were in their early teens and he was just 10 or 11. But they let him join anyway.
The winners were already being awarded their medals in the relay and little swimmer Joshua was still swimming and making his way to his nth lap of the Olympic size pool. He was the only one left swimming. Finally, Josh completed his swim. Instead of getting disappointed about losing and finishing last, he went out of the water, his face beaming and told his parents: “Mom, Dad! Did you see me! I finished the race!”
*I wrote this draft yesterday. The Parenting Seminar was at the CCF Alabang Hall.
*Gerry and Girlie homeschooled their son, Joshua, from grade1 to senior high school. He graduated from Ateneo de Manila and is now working in corporate.
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