Encouragement, not criticism

This month the story is mine.

I was in the park the other day after school with my two kids.  They’ve reached an age now where I get to sit while they get to play.

So I was watching another Mom interacting with her two sons, who were 6 and 3 years old.  I know this because the older one was saying things like “I can do that on my own!” and “I’m able to go faster than that.”  His mother seemed to hear this as bragging.  Or maybe she was concerned about the effect of this kind of “I’m-better-than-you” talk on the younger boy.  In any case, she pointed out that one boy was 6 while his brother was only 3 (“I’m not 6” her elder child retorted; apparently it was still 3 days until his birthday!)

I really felt for her.  I know what it’s like to watch an older child seemingly lord it over a younger child and revel in their superior ability which you know is simply a matter of age.  Children can sound frankly obnoxious at times.  But I’ve learned to let it go.

This mother hadn’t reached that conclusion yet.  And so she spent her time in the playground delivering a constant stream of criticism to her older boy in that frustrated yet resigned tone that mothers do so well.

I really felt for the little boy too.  His Mom didn’t mean to be destroying his self-esteem and self-confidence with her criticism, making it more and more necessary to big himself up in comparison with his little brother.

I really wished she’d known about “I statements” or any of the other more positive – and successful! – ways to guide and encourage children.

I try to take something positive from every interaction I have.  From that trip to the park I got encouragement to stay on the path of positive discipline.  I felt immense gratitude – that I have stumbled upon the ideas of some amazing pioneers who have championed the cause of parents and children and developed positive ways to be together as families.

And finally, I feel really encouraged knowing that I am not alone in wanting to practice a better way to be with my kids.  A big thankyou to all of you out there with me: beyond judgement, beyond punishment, BeyondSupernanny.



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