How to promote and encourage your child

If you want a healthy, positive relationship with your kids, put the criticism aside, stop focusing on what is missing and don’t make comparisons - these are all the guidance tips you need.

 A PARENT kisses her child on the first day of school. (photo credit: MARCO BELLO/REUTERS)
A PARENT kisses her child on the first day of school.
(photo credit: MARCO BELLO/REUTERS)

Many parents believe that if they don’t reprimand their kids for the mistakes they make, they won’t learn. 

In a ‘critical’ method of education, comments from parents tend to focus on what the child lacks. They hear comments about behavior, about how they compare to other children, sometimes to siblings; this could cause them to view themselves as “broken” and in need of fixing. 

Dana Hovesh, a certified parent counselor at the Adler Institute and for the Ministry of Education, explains that, as a parent, when you are disappointed or express dissatisfaction and criticize your kids for mistakes or for character traits, you give over to them the message that they are not good enough. 

Though this may be done with the best of intentions, those of helping your child, it only makes it harder for them, devalues them and hurts the connection. It teaches them to see the world through unnecessarily critical glasses, increasing the likelihood that they will over-criticize themselves.

Alfred Adler, founder of the theory of individual psychology, taught that a person's desire to improve stems more from internal motivation than external criticism; that, in fact, criticism may impair a child’s value and their will to try again out of fear of failing. They may also avoid or resist performing tasks that seem difficult, anticipating their failure in advance. 

 A child and his brother are with their parent, one playing a video game on a phone and the other having a temper tantrum (Illustrative) (credit: Direct Media/Stocksnap) A child and his brother are with their parent, one playing a video game on a phone and the other having a temper tantrum (Illustrative) (credit: Direct Media/Stocksnap)

How to help your child grow

Accept reality 

Understand that people aren't perfect, not even your child. 

Have realistic expectations

Pay attention to your child and balance your level of expectations towards them. If you find you are very disappointed with them, your level of expectations is probably too high. On the flipside, if you are pleasantly surprised by their behavior, your level of expectations is probably too low.

Positive encouragement acts

Encourage your kids and emphasize their desire, effort and motivation to succeed; amplify that. 

Every child and their journey

Do not compare them to other kids, rather look at their progress in the context of the overall growth process that they are going through.

Calmly handle the situation

When they behave inappropriately, even if it reaches an extreme place like harming themselves or destroying property, state — out loud, with words — what the problem is and try to fix it together.

Your kids will cooperate because they are being presented with a new learning opportunity, a positive stream in your relationship. 

Language

Learn a new and non-critical language, a language which separates the doer from the action being done and focuses on what should happen, instead of emphasizing what already has.

For example: instead of saying "you’re lazy", say "you need to put in more effort;" instead of "you’re all over the place" say "you need to concentrate more;" instead of "you have two left hands" say "it's broken, let's fix it together.”

Rudolf Dreikurs , a psychologist and educator who developed Adler's theory into a feasible approach, summed the  advice up as follows:

"Perfection is an elusive goal that’s unattainable. We’ll have the courage to be imperfect and allow our children to be imperfect. Only in this way can we act, progress and develop. The children won’t lose their courage, and will learn to invest more effort if we reduce the value of the mistakes and focus our attention on the positive.”