Giving your children praise is beneficial for you and them. 6 things started happening when I stopped praising my kids, and I didn’t even realize at first.
It’s so important to praise our kids. We know this helps them feel connected to us!
Here is my story of what happened in our home when I let praising go for a season and why I won’t do it again.
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“You are the best slider in the history of the world to have ever slidden down this slide. I just know it!“
“Everything about you is the cutest thing about any baby alive, you are so squishy I am going to eat you.”
These are the types of phrases that you would hear as a fly on the wall in my home. I am affectionate and extremely touchy-feely with my kids. I’m telling you, I pick them up and squeeze them and say the most ridiculous things all the time.
I’m not saying that’s effective praise, but it’s the overflow from my heart.
Praise is sometimes an overflow of the heart, but can come with practice
Because of that I used to think I was a natural at praising my children the right way. That my default was positive attention and affirmation.
And it was… until it wasn’t.
Somewhere along the way I got out of the habit of praising my children regularly. I can’t even say how long this lasted.
A few months maybe? In fact, I didn’t realize I had gotten out of the habit until my son went #2 on his little potty. As I took the potty out of the room to clean it, eyes wide open and searching, he asked…
“Are you proud of me, mommy? Did I do a good job?”
It hit me like a ton of bricks and I nearly started crying right there holding my precious child’s bodily fluids in a plastic container. I had neglected the habit of praising my children. Because, honestly, that’s what it is or it isn’t.
A habit we consciously continue.
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What really happened I didn’t prioritize praise
I’m not saying these would happen to every mother, but they flat sure happened to me. And I hadn’t even realized they were happening until I looked back.
I stopped seeing the positive
When you are actively praising your children, you notice praiseworthy actions and reactions. When you stop, you stop. Instead of seeing the positive all day, I regularly saw the negative.
What they didn’t do, how long it took, how much time they wasted, or how they disobeyed my instructions.
Instead of seeing the kind, caring, and not yet mature children I’ve birthed and am raising, I started focusing on the negative behaviors that were doing my head in. It means the kids started to get on my nerves a lot and I felt ill at ease.
I became more frazzled
If all day long you’re seeing the negative things your children do without appreciating and praising the positive things, you start to feel like a Major Mother Failure.
Obviously I need to quit blogging, ask someone else to raise the kids, and burn all my parenting books if the kids don’t do exactly what I say when I say all day long.
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I became frazzled, discouraged, and frustrated since I was dwelling on the negative and not letting the positive offset and override those momentary struggles.
My tone changed with the kids
When you are praising your children your tone is naturally positive, upbeat and encouraging. It’s just the way it goes.
And, when your default is “praise” your general tone becomes more nurturing. Even if the children are acting crazy and it’s Witching Hour and Pre-Bedtime and everyone is Past the Point, you are in a calmer place.
When I started seeing the negative and was in constant “correction mode” my tone because more stern. Not angry, necessarily, but less warm. Less nurturing. Less caring.
I’m not saying we have to have perfectly chirpy voices all day, but it was grating (even to myself) to hear my own tone of voice.
They stopped expecting praise
I know they stopped expecting it as often because they started expecting rebukes. If someone did something by accident, they’d run and tell me that it was not on purpose so no one got in trouble.
They would run to me and say, “I’m sorry mommy, I didn’t mean to” as though I was going to be angry. Instead of having certain anger triggers, I felt myself becoming an angry mom.
Our connection suffered
Not that a child came up to me and said it in so many words, but I could tell.
Sure, individual time with the kids was still enjoyable, but my general demeanor seemed to be less happy.
Even playing on the floor with my son I’d be more irritable. Instead of appreciating and enjoying the time spent with them, it was as though I was looking for things to correct and problems to fix. This doesn’t make for enjoyable togetherness time.
I lost the joy
Basically, parenting started to become a drag.
Instead of seeing motherhood the way I had been, as my greatest privilege and joy, it became a drudgery. Instead of feeling so privileged and happy to be able to stay home with them, watch them learn, and laugh the day away… I was focusing on the negative.
And it made me feel…well… negative.
Since I realized I’d gotten out of the habit of praising my kids, I’ve been working hard to praise them regularly again. The little things aren’t getting to me as much. There is more patience and positivity in our day. The home atmosphere is just better.
It’s easy to see the good if you’re looking.
Gorgeous and inspiring. Thank you.
Rachel Norman says
Thanks so much for your encouragement!
Nancy Austin says
I came across this post this morning and I had a definite lightbulb moment! I’ve been feeling so out-of-sorts for a few months and couldn’t figure out why! I knew my attitude was all negative and I Didn’t know what happened. I am usually positive, upbeat, and a nice person to be around. Even I didn’t like me very much!
As I read your post, I could feel that you were talking more and more like I felt. And the funny thing is that praising doesn’t just apply to young children; I live with an adult son, my hubby and our 10 year old adopted grandson (he has autism). They were all responding to my negative behavior and this has not been a pleasant place to be for anyone!
Thank you, now I know where to start my “attitude adjustment”. With me!! Wish me luck.
Rachel Norman says
Nancy, WOOHOO it’s actually almost fun to give ourselves an attitude adjustment when we know it’ll help :)
I needed this this morning. Thanks so much for being honest & open with us, for being real! I am in these shoes right now. I raise 3 boys, 14, 9 & 3. Let me tell you it’s easy to find the faults. Your words in this post took my breath away bringing so much conviction. I will start praising my boys today. After all I am just the tool The Lord is using to bring them into His calling for their lives. Again & sincerely, thank you.
Rachel Norman says
Ladonna, SO HAPPY that this post was encouraging to other mothers. It’ shard for us to see then admit where we are wrong, but it’s freeing!
Lauren Q. says
I really needed to read your helpful words today! Gosh, all six of these things happened to me. This weekend, my husband humbly asked that I focus on the positive. He gave me two concrete things for me to do to turn it around: one – when our kids do something positive throughout the day, write it down and share it with him when he gets home from work so I can REMEMBER THE GOOD, and two – Before responding to my children, take a moment to pray/take a breath to make sure that I answer them positively and constructively. I am saving your blog post as a reminder! Thank you!
Rachel Norman says
Lauren, God is working on both of us!!!!
BETTY HITTENBERGER says
Thank you for these tips. I am a substitute teacher and I don’t do a good job of catching the kids doing good. This will help. I give stickers when they are reading quietly. >
Julie S says
Lightbulb moment for me too. I have been struggling with impatience toward my kids and just being not that approving of a person more often than I’d like – less caring tone, many of the things you said here. I know to try to catch them doing good and not just bad but it never really sunk in or turned into action. This blog post though! It actually got through to me in a way that my other readings and efforts to improve my attitude haven’t. Thank you!! My 5 year old is such a sweetie and I just haven’t been enjoying her for a while. I made the effort to be aware, praise and affirm today and it truly improved both of our days as well as my heart toward her. I will continue this for sure.