Parental Put-Downs & Excessive Positive Reinforcement

31 May

Is there an executive order stating that all parents must insult their children on a daily basis? Perhaps the logic behind this was that the constant criticism would “built character” and teach kids to “grow a thicker skin.” In my experience, it builds resentment and disrespect. If you’re a parent and you find yourself criticizing your children more than complimenting them, stop. We’ve got enough self-esteem issues without you adding to them.

Conversely, if you compliment your kids for everything they do, including (but not limited to): drawing an ugly picture, going to the bathroom (I kid you not), tying their shoes, or, and possibly the most irksome, getting a passing grade, you need a reality check. These are actions that almost every child on the planet can perform proficiently. There is no reason that these simple and expected tasks should be met with an excessively positive reaction. The reason I mentioned grades is because I know quite a few of my peers receive money or other rewards for passing their classes or getting straight A’s. I understand that, if the kid ordinarily doesn’t do as well in school, these can be big achievements, BUT the parents’ intervention in the intent behind these accomplishments corrupt the internal motivations of the kid. Instead of doing well for the sake of self-motivation and the pride of accomplishment, they do it for immediate gratification and material possessions. That is ridiculous. If your kid does unusually well in school, express your pride and LEAVE IT BE. Believe me, despite our insistence upon nonchalance and apathy, we really do care what you think of us. All we want to do is impress you…*sniffle*. But really. Find a happy medium between crushing your beloved child beneath your heel and reinforcing their egos to the point of pain (my pain).

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