Words of affirmation are a sincere expression of appreciation toward a person you value. They may be in written or verbal form. Either way, words of affirmation are a powerful way of enhancing someone’s self-esteem and boosting their self-confidence. Nonetheless, they are not meant for flattery or exaggeration.
The bullet points below are definitions taken from W.O.W. MOTIVATE Womenar session:
- Confirms something which is true.
- Declares something positively.
- Ability to see potential in somebody and help him see it.
- Ability to speak life to somebody.
- It encourages positive change.
When relating to my kids, my words of affirmation toward them are not uncommon. They are common because they are real. They are common because I understand their power and the negative effects of words that kill. Words that kill are different from words of rebuke.
Words of rebuke are words written or uttered constructively, whereas words that kill are unfair and unreasonable judgments toward a person or situation. Words that criticize, ridicule, taunt, judge, accuse, shame or blame a person are examples of words that kill. These words can linger in the recipient for many years, which can affect their self-esteem, thereby making them feel insecure.
When you are blessed to have kids, remember that while they are growing up, no one else is best assigned to take care of them but you, the parents. Not the grandparents, not the uncles or aunts, not your friends or neighbors. This is why God has designed marriage to be consisting of a husband and wife. So, when they have kids, they both take responsibility for their children. Neither the mother alone, nor the father alone.
However, in such scenarios where the parent is single, and she is left without an option but to become the breadwinner, then it must be understood that she would need to entrust her kids to somebody else who can show love and care for her children the same way that she does to these little ones.
When kids are doing well, e.g. dining table is wiped clean, they display perseverance in their studies, they show a sense of accountability, it is important to never let this go unnoticed. Mention it to your child and praise them for a job well done.
How do I go about it with my 9-year-old Hale? Here are the words I tell her:
“See, when you persevere, you are able to solve what you thought was a difficult word problem. This is why perseverance is important. No matter how intelligent a person is but if she is lazy, then there’s no point in being bright, right? You are diligent and persevering, Hale. You are smart.”
Her face lit up as I uttered these words of affirmation to her. Observe how I highlighted a comparison between a persevering and a lazy person. I explained that her being smart was derived from her perseverance to study and understand the problem through practice, not derived from her inborn quality of being smart. Her intelligence was the result of the efforts she exerted. Consequently, this will not make her feel fearful to solve another Mathematical word problem knowing that all she needs to do is to persevere so that she can arrive at a correct solution and answer. That’s what makes a person smart!
(There is a social experiment that explains why we ought to emphasize to our young children the benefits of being diligent vs. being smart. I will share it in a separate write-up.)
“You’re such a good girl, my Hale. Not even complaining when I ask you to clean something. You’re making my mommy life easier!”
One of the admirable qualities of Hale is that she does not complain when I ask her to wipe clean our dining table, sweep the floor or mop a portion of it, or hang our clothes up to the ceiling bars. She loves to help and make things easier for me since we do not have a helper. Because of this, she continues to help wholeheartedly without complaints because her efforts do not go unnoticed.
“You’re really good at reading, huh! Keep it up, Chantry!”
For my 5-year-old Chantry who enjoys drawing and playing, I see to it that she enjoys studying and does not feel too pressured by it since she still belongs to ‘the below 6-year-old bracket’. Charlotte Mason, an English educator and a proponent of this belief, urged parents to begin academic formal study at age 6. For kids below 6, lessons ought to be taught more through play, observing nature and reciting poems.
When I praise Chantry on her reading skills, I notice how it motivates her more to read. Nevertheless, my compliment to her is motivated by sincerity, not flattery. I mean what I say and I only say it when I mean it.
“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!”
This is so common among my kids that they don’t feel hesitant saying it to us, her parents, and grandparents (Mommy and Daddy), as if it has become part of their system. Why? Because they hear it from my hubby and me first. Hugs and I love you’s are our common language. Training them to say this to us while they’re young teaches them to say it even when they grow up to become adults.
While our children are little, let not our jobs, busy schedule or other seemingly important things steal away the attention that we need to give our kids. They need to be affirmed for their good works and behavior. However, if rebuke is needed, then that’s where positive discipline should come in. In instances that a young child has a “heart” problem, a.k.a. stubborn attitude, then that’s where the discipline of the rod comes into play.
From now on, let us all practice affirmation toward our kids whenever necessary.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Prov 18:21)
Dear Lord, thank You for the knowledge and wisdom that You give us through Your Word. You are a God who generously gives wisdom when asked, without finding fault. (James 1:5) Without You, we are nothing.
May our faith be consistent with our own actions, even when struggles and challenges come upon us. When we find ourselves too busy to notice our children, please awaken us before it’s too late.
We continue to trust in You and put our hope in You. Please guide us and teach us every day. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.