Appreciating Child’s Work
Appreciation, a need even adults have, undoubtedly helps children in many ways. It helps children sustain healthy self-esteem, be confident, stay positive etc. However, we need to be conscious of the right way of showing appreciation. We need to appreciate the efforts of the child associated with an activity rather than the child or its talent.
You are a wonderful singer can be replaced with I really appreciate your efforts in learning singing .
That’s an awesome painting can be replaced with I can really see that you have put in a good amount to make this painting awesome – The effort in choosing the colours, getting the strokes right and the attention to detail is highly appreciable.
Praising the talent (or the individual) does make the child happy and feel encouraged. Since such messages stoke the ego of the child, there is a reasonable chance of ego increasing. The child may also end up assuming having capabilities beyond what it truly possesses. Acknowledging the efforts of the child instead of talent conveys that efforts are more important than talent. Our conscious and consistent communication thus should help vinaya increase and make sure that ahankara doesn’t grow.
Similarly, while finding fault with children’s work needs to be based on the same principle.
Your work is not good can be replaced with some more efforts are required to make this work better.
You are very bad at drawing can be replaced with some more efforts you can draw well.
Finding fault with the child itself or its talent or the outcome of an act can lower its self-esteem leading to undermining the possibility of the child doing well even in those the child is good at.
It is also essential that we appreciate the efforts of a child or indicate lack of it only when due. Undue appreciation or not indicating inadequate efforts as situation demands result in improper attitude or behaviours. The right balance is therefore essential. We can find the right balance with unprejudiced mind and heart, and with intuition.
Similarly, with respect to the behaviour of the child, we need to appreciate or comment on the act/behaviour and not comment on the nature of the child, as perceived by that act/behaviour.
Postscript: We, as parents, unknowingly fall into another trap that we need to be conscious of and avoid. We desire that our child has to be capable of and do things well. We also feel particularly embarrassed when our child doesn’t act as we expect in the presence of others. With an anxious intent of making our child perfect, we tend to constantly correct our child. We focus on what our child is not doing well while ignoring everything else the child does right. This persistent behaviour of ours could potentially induce fear of failure or indifference , both of which potentially and unfortunately, alter the behaviour of the child for life .