Let your children overhear you sometimes…

Posted by Samantha on April 25, 2011 in Thought for the day |

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.

Dr Haim G. Ginott, Israeli child psychologist and parent educator (1922 – 1973)

To this day my mother still reports to me the nice things that my father says about me to his friends.  Ah yes, in the golf-club, he thinks I’m wonderful. 

I’m glad my mother did this when I was growing up.  Because if I’d only had what my father said to me to go on, I’d have missed the subtleties of his love for me.  My poor Dad!  He just didn’t know how to express his love for me in a way I could recognise.

This is a widespread problem.  We want to help our children to improve.  We want them to be upstanding members of the human race that we can be really proud of – and who can be really proud of themselves.  But for generations, many parents have been going about this the wrong way.

Then raised with impossible expectations and berated for falling short of them, when we become parents, we tend to repeat the pattern.

My mother’s approach was different to my father’s.  She cajoled and criticised me in private.  But in public it was a different story.  She just loved to tell the girls on the check-out, and the chiropodist, and the dentist and the hairdresser how clever I was.  It was toe-curlingly embarrassing.  And of course I didn’t believe it – because the majority of what I heard at home was negative.

We develop our self-concept through the mirror of our parents.  How our parents see us is how we end up seeing ourselves. 

So my suggestion today is that you let your child overhear you say something nice about them – TO THEIR OTHER PARENT!  Make it look like a private chat between you and your partner.  Be casual and matter of fact.   But let your pride in your child show. 

It’s normal to feel pleased with our children’s achievements.  And if you express that pride to the other person in the world who’s as interested in them as you are – their other parent – then you won’t have to let your pride out in the wrong way, at the wrong time, to the wrong person. 

And your children don’t want the dentist or your golf buddies to think they’re great – they want to know that YOU think they’re great.

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