Children who get too much validation for being good find it very difficult to handle the tiniest mistake without feeling they are failures. These children, if they do make a mistake, are apt to lie, or worse, avoid activities that they are not sure they will succeed at to cover the fact they are not perfect.
Is your child being good to win approval? Or are you blessed with a sensible little person who always seems to get it right?
Things to do and say to ensure your child doesn't become an approval seeker:
1. Don't compare. Don't say, 'Look at your sister, she is sitting up well.' Or, 'Why can't you be good like your brother/cousin?' It makes the 'bad' child feel bad and therefore act 'bad' and it puts pressure on the 'good' child to please you.
2. Use encouragement. Notice progress and effort rather than results. Say, 'You are working hard at keeping your room tidy' instead of 'good boy'. Separate the behaviour from the person. That is, keep what people do, separate from who they are, so that a bad behaviour does not make the person bad, nor a good behaviour make a person good. This is very important for self- esteem.
3. Say 'Try again!' to let your children know that it is ok to make a mistake and that they are wonderful opportunities to learn. Create a ritual during car trips/ dinner of having everyone take turns sharing a mistake and what they learned from it.
4. Make sure your children get the message that ANYONE can fall down, but it takes courage to get up and try again.
5. Don't let your children get away with avoiding new activities. Let them know they can decide to stop an activity after at least three or four activities. This will help to reduce the likelihood of your child not taking risks in case they are not the 'best'.
Teach that a mistake is just that, a mis/take. It is impossible to grow and learn without making them..... and that is what being a kid is all about isn't it?
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