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October 06, 2010

A minute of praise

I once heard Michelle Duggar say that you should praise your children 10 times more than you correct them.  She went on to say that you should always praise publicly and punish privately.

I feel like I do a good job encouraging my husband.  I am very intentional about it.  I am learning that it is essential for my children as well.

When Graham shares his potty candy with Elijah, I make a big deal about how generous he is.  He now shares his candy every time.  When I tell Elijah how kind he is, I see him react in kindness throughout the rest of the day.

It makes sense.  We all respond better to praise over correction.  But it is really difficult to put into practice when dealing day in and day out with your children.  There seem to be so many things that need correction.  However, I am finding that when I intentionally praise my kids, there are less things that need correction.

Starting tonight, I am adding something to our bed time routine: A minute of praise.  Right after we say our prayers, I plan on saying one great thing that each of them did that day.  Obviously this won't replace spontaneous praise throughout the day, but it will allow us to thoughtfully affirm each of them in front of the other. 

I would love some more ideas about this... how do you praise you children?


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I just wanted to THANK YOU so much for writing this... I am the proud (& exhausted :) Mama of 5 year old twin boys, a 3 year old daughter, & 1 year old twin girls!! I admit that i'm usually stuck in the perpetual cycle of playing "referee" all day & unfortunately a lot of "correcting" behaviors has become the norm. It's exhausting (for all of us, i'm sure) & i've have grown to dread this "role" i've fallen into! (being the adult stinks sometimes-haha!) What a wonderful insight & idea to make the INTENTIONAL effort to take the time to slow down at the end of the day & really give each child the focus & attention & praise they deserve (and sometimes don't get during the business & chaos of the day)! It seems like such a simple idea and yet i'm not sure i've been very good at it lately... So Thanks for sharing this- I'm SO looking forward to seeing the positive effects it will have on our entire family!! :) ~Many Blessing to You & Your Beautiful Family...

Thank you so much for this, Holly. Even though I'm not a mommy yet, I really appreciate how real, open and honest you are- which gives me the boldness to ask you: how do you encourage and support your husband? Sorry if my question is too personal or seems nosey- but encouragement and praise are something I really struggle with, and I've really tried to work on this ever since I learned that my husband's #1 love language is words of affirmation- which unfortunately is my lowest ranking love language. Because it is not something that comes natural to me, I have to make a conscious effort. I can imagine it may be easier to praise children , but how can I praise my husband without feeling like I am insulting his intelligence? Not that I use a 'sing-song' voice with him like I do with my dog, but I just feel so awkward when doing so. I truly need help with this- if you don't mind sharing. Thank you so much!
ps- I've been praying for easier pregnancy symptoms for you!

I write little notes on post-it notes and strategically place them in pockets, backpacks, purses, etc. so they are found at random. I also leave notes in school planners and never leave home on a trip or for sleepovers without leaving notes that say I'm proud or how much I love them. My children are old enough to have Facebook and I post lots of gratitude and loving messages on there for all to see. My kids love finding my messages and their friends often verbalize that they wish their parents would do the same for them. When I hear this, I leave messages and notes for them too. It's amazing how such a small gesture can be so priceless and meaningful.

Oh, I love this idea! I REALLY needed this reminder today! THANKYOU!!!!!

Holly, thank you so much for posting this. I have recently started something like this so this is encouraging. Also, after last weeks sermon, I sorta incorporated this- when I was praying with the boys, I would touch their eyes (eyelids : ) and say "thank you for giving them eyes to see like You" touch their feet, "please be with them wherever they go" touch their heads "thank you for giving them a smart brain to do a good job in school"....this helps them as they hear me thanking God for them and praying for them. They actually asked the other day- are you going to pray with us? I see how much a difference it makes in their self esteem knowing that they are important enough to bring before the Lord.

I also do something similar to your idea at bedtime. I have a five year old and for the past couple of years we have done "5 Reasons" (or, 5 reasons I'm proud of you for the day). Before his bedtime prayers I will turn the light out and snuggle with him in bed and say, "I'm proud of you today for ____." I do this with five sentences. Some days it is a true stretch, especially since he started kindergarten this year and is very grumpy in the evenings. It is a true bonding experience for both of us, and it helps me to remember back over the day at all he has done that I may have overlooked. It does help me to think more about the praise I give him each day. Thank you for this post Holly!

Holly - my girls are 13 and 15 but I know praise is powerful in forming their self esteem - My oldest daughter has always held me accountable for my negativity so I have really tried the past few months to praise her more for her efforts and for how well she started the school year this year. She has been a different "kid" since school has started.....bringing in straight A's and loving school....that has been a HUGE accomplishment for us....my other daughter....well she is just going through the "13" yr. old stage so praise or punishment doesn't make a big difference to her .....LOL... I wish my parents would have praised me more when I was growing up instead of focusing on all of the negative things...... you are doing a good job with your boys...thinks for sharing with us each week :)

One thing I've recently started doing is when I come across a Bible verse that reminds me of one of my children (character trait), I underline it in that child's Bible and then have them watch me do the same thing in my Bible and write their name beside it. For my oldest 2 (8 and 6), their faces beam when they see me write their name in my Bible. Also, I hope as they get older and are doing their own devotions, they will see that verse highlighted in their Bible and be encouraged. A good post today Holly- something all us moms can become skilled at!

Excellent advice - you have just encouraged me today in that area! One thing that I am trying to do with mine, 11 yrs., 9 yrs, and 7 yrs. of age, is as I see certain "gifts" or talents or strengths in them I try to point it out, confirm it and encourage them in it....for instance, Camille (my second) has a real gift for "service" - and so, as they grow perhaps they will have a clearer more direct knowing of their God given strengths...a bit earlier in life than their Mama:) who began firguring it out so much later in life! Congratulations to you in your pregnancy!

I like to brag about my 3 year old to other people when I know that he is in earshot. There are so many times that it doesn't seem like he's listening to my bragging about him, but he is and I can tell it really boosts his confidence to know that mommy and daddy praise him to other people!

I periodically go to CVS on my lunch hour and pick up several "Encouragement, Congratulations & Love You" or Blank greeting cards. I send them in care packages to my 20 year old who is away at college and always praise something specific that he has told me about his life there. Most recently, that was an invitation to write for the school paper but I have also praised him for making it to his early class every time for a month (a really big accomplishment for him). I also tuck one of the cards into my daughter's lunchbox every now and then. She is a Junior in HS and making her lunch is one of the few "mommy" chores I get to do for her now. I love spending that extra few minutes writing to her and I have found the cards taped to her mirror, in her binders, etc. I've found that intentionally thinking of the positive changes my interactions with my teenagers.

Thanks...I needed this reminder. One thing that I find helps the praise sink in is involving other people. Sometimes our kids drown out our voices. So, if I want to make a big deal about something, I say it to my girls but then I might also call grandma or auntie and especially daddy and let them hear me talk about what good choices they are making.

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