How often in the last hour have you said "good job" to your child? It's almost like a knee jerk reflex nowadays. We congratulate every. single. act our kids do. Ate your cereal? Good job. Put your pants on? Good job. Cleaned up the toys? Good job. Said hi to your grandma? Extra good job. Why are we bravo-ing everything? What happened?
It's exhausting to be a cheerleader and honestly, it's not only unnecessary, but damaging.
We are creatures of habit. Kids who grow up hearing good job and great work and you're such a princess, and you're so smart expect to get those pats on the back ALL THE TIME. I am not saying not to congratulate your child here and there for the awesomeness that they are and for their good deeds, but try, to reserve them for really good moments. Kids need to learn that their actions are reflections of them, based on their inherent and intrinsic sense of self- not based on outside compliments and cheer.
Also, for the love of everything sacred, reserve the "Good girl/ good boy" compliment for your pet. All kids are good. All the time. They make mistakes, they learn, they do things that are annoying, messy, and even disastrous. But they are good. By saying to your child "good girl" when she does something you want- you teach her that she is only good when she follows your command and otherwise she can be a bad girl. By trying to compliment her this way, you are directly sabotaging any chance you have of building up her self-esteem and instead creating a person who believes in order to be good she must do as she is told (a puppet).
My article on this topic goes a bit further. And if you're really into research, check out books by Carol Dweck and Paul Tough. They dive head on these topics.
Thanks, happy reading and happy New Year!
It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year...
Yes, and no. For the multi-tasking, got it all together, presents bought and wrapped, traffic hating, carpool line parent- it can be a tumultuous time of the year. Happy that parties for Chanukah and Christmas are ever so present, but exhausted from keeping it all running smoothly.
So, I offer you wonderful mamas five tips on staying calm.
I also am a big fan of Rachel Macy Stafford and her Hands Free Journey. I love her blog posts and her last book Hands Free Life. It was a great, heart-felt, tear jerker read. I highly recommend it. It's one of those so true, so raw, it hurts and heals at the same time rare finds that really puts life in perspective. Stafford provides 9 tips on leading an enriched life and goes beyond that by giving real life examples, and tips to make it happen.
As an infant mental health psychologist, I tend to see many toddlers who are referred by their teachers or pediatricians for behavioral problems. Many parents are aware that there are some delays in speech and that their relationship is not where it should be. Teachers note the typical red flags- not participating in circle time, difficulty sharing with others or making friends, not following directions. And parents, rightfully so, start to freak out.
They start to look for signs of autism because that is the most common diagnosis out there that focuses on lack of social skills in kids. BUT. At this age, it is hard to tell (unless the symptoms are screaming out loud AUTISM) if it's autism, PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), or sensory processing disorder. Why? Speech delays and sensory issues can affect social skills in huge ways. Pretend you were sent to Papua New Guinea tomorrow. How quickly are you to make friends there?
In my work, I am very careful with the diagnosis of Autism because I need to see if a solid chunk of therapies in speech and occupation can help the child come out of it or if it is something much more chronic. I always tell parents, the recommendations are the same, whether it is autism or not- speech and occupational therapy and physical therapy as needed. And if parents are having a hard time relating to or parenting their child because of the delays, then we work on that in therapy to make the relationship stronger and the connection between parent and child more palpable. No matter what the diagnosis, our kids need to feel like we have their back as their parents.
What many neurologists, pediatricians, psychologists, and parents overlook is the possibility of Sensory Processing Disorder. To read more on Sensory Processing Disorder, check out the link. This is real and it affects kids significantly. The sooner you figure out if your child has SPD, the easier your life and theirs will be.
This is a cute video on what SPD is explained by a child and based on real terms. Parents! Know that your child isn't trying to be a pain in the butt. Their issues are real and there are ways of dealing with them and teaching them how to become more/less sensitive.
Remember to check out my article here on Sensory Processing Disorder.
Now that I am toilet training with child #2, I went back to this article as a refresher for what's to come... Potty training boys is a lot different than training girls and every child is different. I am reminded to go at my son's pace, to keep a hopeful, calm attitude, and that for the kids in my family, potty training isn't a 3-day event, but a process. And, to top it off, being a clean freak in the midst of potty training makes all the more interesting.
Dr. Eva Benmeleh
I am a licensed clinical child psychologist in Hallandale Beach. I hope you enjoy the site!
221 West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Suite 202
Hallandale, FL 33009