When my child folded her blanket…
I was overcome with pride when I watched my 15 year old daughter fold her blanket. I profusely praised her for that. She was truly embarrassed and kept on saying, “It is such a small thing.” I was under the impression, the more I praise her, the better will be her self esteem.
Here’s where I went wrong:
In a program, I met Col Modak who was a part of the anti insurgency operations in J & K. I asked him how is he so fit and how does he set high standards for himself? My question was meant as a praise. His answer made me question my beliefs on appreciation.
Col Modak – “My father just acknowledged a good work with a slight nod. His nod indicated this was the minimum expected out of me. It included things like, “Picking up shopping bags from my mom’s hands, sharing my chocolates, toys and storybooks with my cousins etc.
My father appreciated me with his eyes for a job well done. This was for things were I did more than I was expected to do. My father verbally appreciated me only when I had delighted them with my efforts and results.” Every pointer of his was like a slap on my face.
The perils of setting the bar low:
I realised I am setting the bar a bit low with appreciation for the folding on the blanket. This might make our children lower their expectations from themselves and expect rewards for even slightly more efforts than normal. They may not understand the word ‘struggle’ at all. Life as a child might be easy. Life as an adult might become tough.
The lesson to take home here:
I need to offer support to my kids all the time, but offer real praise only when it is truly warranted. Besides valuing hard work and efforts, this will also teach the kids humility.
Dr Leonard Sax says, “So many kids have been indoctrinated in their own awesomeness with no understanding of how this culture of bloated self-esteem leads to resentment.” Let’s prevent our children from being victims to this culture.
To know more about building self esteem in your kids, explore the videos here.