Monday, August 16, 2010

Giving Positive Feedback without Sticking Your Foot in Your Mouth

"When you're right, no one remembers;
when you're wrong, no one forgets."

The tongue can be a powerful force for good, or it can be used to degrade or humiliate others, and this is as applicable to adults as it is to children. Often times, in our feeble attempts to correct our children, we sometimes become overly critical, unknowingly convincing ourselves that kids will learn it no other way. There have been occasions when I personally have tried to deal with a situation in which one of my kids was doing something that I considered somewhat annoying (e.g., yelling around the house) and have simply told the child, "Stop being annoying."

Yeah, what good does a statement like that have when (1) the activity the child was involved in wasn't destructive or bothersome to the degree that I let it irk me, (2) it didn't identify or address specifically the behavior that I wanted the child to pay attention to and modify, and (3) it didn't offer an alternative activity that the child could choose to do instead.

On the day I was leaving the post office after having registered for the draft when I was 18 (I just remember this day because of the circumstances), I remember seeing the quote above hanging on the wall. What struck me was its significance: we too often are unwilling to let others forget their past mistakes, and in the case with children, providing no positive feedback or comments only seems to magnifiy in their minds the image that others have about them.

This is a constant reminder to me that I need to focus on giving positive feedback that builds self worth and helps a child make specific behavior modifications in a supportive way.

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