I didn’t even realize I was doing this–The Worst Way to Compliment Your Children.
I’m taking this awesome class with my son to empower him and help him build healthy neural connections. The teacher shared some thing simple that really stood out to me was this (I’m paraphrasing):
You need to end a positive, encouraging sentence with a period. Don’t add a “but” and then continue with criticism or negative words. All your child will hear is the negative that you ended with.
I Don’t Do That
When the teacher said this, I thought to myself, that’s good advice that I can share with my readers, ha, ha. At the moment I didn’t think it was something I struggled with or needed help with but as the day went on and I caught myself doing it, more than once. So I’ve been making sure to end my praise with a period and not a “but”.
Even though I could give myself a pat on the back for complimenting him, I really take away from the whole compliment when I add that “but” to it. Here’s what it looks like– “I was really impressed with how you handled that situation but in the future make sure you don’t bring up other things.” Or, “Wow, your reading has improved so much but next time remember to stop at punctuations marks, so when you…” Do you see how easy it was to slip in that “but”? These examples actually happened and I didn’t think twice about what I had just done.
Sometimes in our minds, we believe if we don’t add the “but”, my child will think the wrong way is okay. So, of course, we HAVE to correct him right then and there. But when we do this we rain on their little parade. I’m not magnifying his strengths when I add a “but”.
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There is a time and place to correct but it’s not when your praising or encouraging your child.
End your praise with a–period.
How to Correct Yourself When “But” Keeps Coming Out
This is what I did when I caught myself using “but”, I stopped myself and said, “Oh wait, sorry I meant to say–Wow, your reading has improved, great job on those big words.” I stopped myself and paused.
At this point, you’ve already started saying but, you can just not say anything at all or I could find another time to share it. Our kids do need correction especially if they are learning a new thing like playing ball or the piano.
Make sure you keep your correction and your praise–separate. For example, the right way would be to say–All this practice is really improving your swing! Not–“All this practice is really improving your swing but maybe next time you’ll want to move closer to the base and move your body forward.” Obviously, your child is going to improve their swing even more if you’re guiding them. But at that moment that’s not what you need to communicate. Just wait after you’ve praised him, keep playing and then say, “Hey buddy, you’ll want to move closer to the base…”
If you discover that you do in fact struggle with adding a “but” to your compliments try this here. I encourage you to start off with 3 rubber bands, bracelets or friendship bracelets around your wrist. Your goal is by the end of the day, to have all 3 on. If you find yourself adding “buts” to your praise then you’ll take off a bracelet. The reason this kind of reminder works for people, is you’re eventually self correcting, therefore creating positive neural pathways. Which will hopefully help you in the future to stop at the end of the praise instead adding a “but”.
I’ll share in another post other ways NOT to compliment your child or for that matter anyone, but I’m better with improving myself one thing at a time.
Until then, share below ways you stop yourself from correcting your child when complimenting.
The above image quote is from Skinny Mom, it’s not only cute, but it’s spot on.
Other post you’ll enjoy:
What parent doesn’t deal with this? Kid Friendship Dilemmas–I’m not your friend anymore.
That Time I Let Them Build a Ship
How We’re Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
5 Important Phrases that Help Me Parent
28 Things Your Family Needs to Hear You Say