Praising and Correcting Our Kids in the Digital Age: How Much is too Much?
By Katelyn King
In our technology-driven lives we are constantly peeking, looking into, and stalking everyone else’s lives. Our children see a filtered life where people pick and choose the best party, best hairdo, best beach trip and perfect outfit to share with others. They get online and see that Rachel just made the basketball team and Tim is at a party they weren’t invited to.
Even if our kids are not on social media yet, they are most likely seeing our Facebook or Instagram feed. This constant comparing of their weaknesses with other people’s filtered lives can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, plummeting self-worth and even depression. Many feel that they are constantly shown that they are not pretty enough, not cool enough, and worst of all, not included.
So how can we parents help fortify and raise our children’s self-worth in this digital age? How can we help our children feel comfortable in their own skin, be resilient, and still push them to grow and thrive in life?
A recent study at Harvard University found that the best sales teams had between five and six positive comments for every negative one (Zenger, 2017). This supports Dr. John Gottman’s 5:1 ratio principle for a healthy relationship between couples (Lisitsa, 2012). Gottman’s 5:1 principle says that stable relationships should have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative. This can be applied to any healthy relationship!
As a parent how often do you criticize your child? How often do you compliment them? It is so easy to see what is going wrong. I tend to criticize my son when he is picking on his sister, tell him he needs to do better at cleaning up and give him a hard time when he does not listen.
Parental criticism is important. Our children cannot change unless they know what they’re doing is wrong. But, how often do I praise my son for cleaning, for being kind to his sister, or doing something the first time I ask? Sadly, not often enough.
Criticism helps us recognize and overcome weaknesses, but too much criticism can bring us down and make us feel like a disappointment or failure. Our children already fight feelings of inadequacy every day surrounded by social media and peers at school.We need to take time to complement our children.
However, we also need to be cognizant of the way we compliment our kids. We need to focus on their inner worth, rather than focusing solely on accomplishments or outward appearance. We can complement their:
- Hard work
- Problem solving
- Listening Skills
- Being Honest
For more great ideas, check out “20 Ways to Compliment A Child That Have Nothing To Do With Appearance.”
This past week I went out of my way to complement my son more. Sometimes it was over something so small, like thanking him for putting the dishes in the sink. But I could not believe how much better behaved he was! As I complimented him, I helped him increase his self-worth and recognize the positive decisions he was making. When we acknowledge others’ good works we lift them up and make them want to be better.
For more ideas and activities to help build up your child and strengthen your relationship, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child. It has great activities and discussions to teach your child how to have inner emotional, intellectual and social strength. One of the lessons in the book is on love. It includes questions to ask, a discussion about what love is, and activities to teach your child how to show love toward others.
If we want our kids to compliment others and be kind we need to both set the example and teach them. Try complimenting your child more this week and make it a priority. You will be a better parent and start to have a stronger relationship with your child.
Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.
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Lisitsa, E. (2012, December 5). The Positive Perspective: Dr. Gottman’s Magic Ratio! Retrieved August 19, 2017, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-positive-perspective-dr-gottmans-magic-ratio/
Zenger , J. & Folkman, J. (2017, June 27). The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism